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Coronavirus

Saudi Arabia to become regional hub for COVID-19 vaccines, supplies: KSrelief chief

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Saudi Arabia is “uniquely equipped and ready” to become the regional hub for the production of coronavirus vaccines, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) supervisor general Abdullah al-Rabeeah said on Wednesday.

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“Saudi Arabia strongly encourages regionalization of pertinent industries – particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia,” SPA quoted al-Rabeeah as saying.

Regional production of vaccines and medical supplies would boost supplies and create job opportunities, according to the supervisor general. It would also increase healthcare systems’ ability to control distribution and delivery, he added.

The Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), Dr. Abdullah al-Rabeeah in a G20 Ministerial Event cohosted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Food Programme (WFP) at the UN Headquarters in Brindisi, Italy. (SPA)
The Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), Dr. Abdullah al-Rabeeah in a G20 Ministerial Event cohosted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Food Programme (WFP) at the UN Headquarters in Brindisi, Italy. (SPA)

“Regional production of COVID-19 vaccines and other medicines and supplies would not only provide more vaccine availability, but would also create job opportunities and boost the ability of regional health care systems to control their own vaccine distribution and delivery,” al-Rabeeah said.

The Kingdom could also provide supplies, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospital staff and the general public, ventilators, medical gases, and other medicines, he added.

Inequities in vaccine supplies and medical equipment have prevented dozens of countries around the world from controlling the outbreak of the coronavirus, according to al-Rabeeah.

“Increasing the access of all countries to vaccines is key to achieving global control over COVID-19…learning from the lessons [of COVID-19] is essential [when planning to address] future outbreaks,” he said.

“The toll this global health emergency has taken on economies, health systems, education, governance and social structures has been devastating, particularly for the most vulnerable groups, such as children, women, the elderly, and those suffering from hunger, conflicts and natural disasters,” he added.

Saudi Arabia has invested a total of $713 million to support the global fight against the coronavirus, including donations to Gavi, the COVAX Facility, and CEPI, al-Rabeeah said.

“KSrelief has also delivered bilateral assistance to a number of countries, including Yemen, Syria and Sudan, and aid to others via third-country delivery points.”

The Kingdom has provided support for refugee communities worldwide, including extensive pandemic assistance to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, and a number of other refugee groups with concentrations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, he added.

Al-Rabeeah also called for the vital need “for all countries to contribute financially to global solutions for global pandemics, because no country is immune to the threat of future diseases such as COVID-19.”

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