Saudi Arabia will be ‘one of the first’ to procure coronavirus vaccine: KSRelief head

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Saudi Arabia has supported global efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and will be “one of the first” to procure a future vaccine, said Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Rabeeah, the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).

“Saudi Arabia is part of the international community to support the creation and development of the vaccine,” said al-Rabeeah, speaking at the virtual media briefing “G20 Saudi Leadership: Challenges and Achievements,” ahead of the G20 Riyadh Summit this weekend.

“In Saudi Arabia, the government has established a high-level and well-experienced committee, and now Saudi Arabia will be one of the first countries to procure the vaccine, enough for the people of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Read more: Coronavirus pushed challenges faced by youth to ‘new extremes’ says Saudi Y20 chair

Al-Rabeeah outlined the range of efforts taken by both the G20, which Saudi Arabia leads this year, and the Kingdom in particular to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“Saudi Arabia has injected $500 million, $200 million of which will be for the international and regional organizations, and more specifically for the vaccine and drug development,” explained al-Rabeeah, who also highlighted joint efforts by the G20.

“The G20 have done their best to maintain the health systems of the world by injecting $21 billion, hoping that people will not suffer from this significant pandemic. Also, there are countries that have faced difficulties due to their fragile economies, and that is why the G20 has injected 14 billion,” he said.

Addressing the Kingdom's domestic steps, al-Rabeeah explained why Saudi Arabia had suspended the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj and Umrah as the virus spread globally.

“Saudi Arabia is the hub of the Islamic world, and we didn’t want Saudi Arabia to be a hub of spreading the disease, and the government of Saudi Arabia has been bold enough to suspend both Hajj and Umrah, and has suspended international travel.”

Read more: Saudi Arabia ‘didn’t allow COVID-19 to hold us back’ says G20 Sherpa ahead of summit

G20 Riyadh Summit

Saudi Arabia holds the 2020 presidency of the G20, which rotates among members, and will be hosting the G20 summit across Saturday November 21 and Sunday November 22.

Due to the coronavirus, this year’s Riyadh summit is being held virtually, with leaders and ministers attending via webcam.

The build-up events, ranging from Women 20 to Business 20, have also taken place virtually.

Addressing the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is top of the agenda this year, as countries try to rebuild from the devastating economic impact of the virus.

The environment has also featured, with the looming threat of climate change everpresent on the agenda.

This year’s agenda also has a sharper focus on culture than previous years, with culture ministers pledging to support the $2.3 trillion cultural economy in a meeting on November 4.

Read more: Al-Jadaan: G20 Leaders’ summit to convene in the spirit of ‘cooperation, solidarity’