Residents in Saudi Arabia must have two vaccine doses to be fully protected against COVID-19, with one dose not being sufficient to protect against the highly transmissible delta variant, the Kingdom’s official health ministry spokesperson says.
Dr Mohamed al-Abdali said while Saudi Arabia is seeing a decline in new daily COVID-19 cases, the delta variant, deemed of high concern by the World Health Organization, is still a concern for concern in the Kingdom.
The delta variant is thought to be one of the most contagious strains of COVID-19, with research suggesting that it is more than twice as transmissible as the original virus. It is considered the most dominant strain in a number of countries, including the US.
The health ministry has urged everyone to complete their full vaccination course to fully protect themselves against COVID-19 strains.
A study published in the journal Nature in July found that, although vaccines work well against the delta variant, the level of protection they offer seems depend largely on a person has completed a vaccination course.
It found that just a single dose of Pfizer’s or AstraZeneca’s vaccines — both of which require two shots — was either weakly or not at all effective against delta.
The researchers performed laboratory experiments on blood samples from people who had received one of those shots. After a single dose, just 10 per cent of those samples had developed antibodies that neutralized the delta variant — a sign that those individuals would be protected from a symptomatic infection. After two doses, however, 95 percent of samples had developed neutralizing antibodies against delta.
The researchers concluded that the delta variant “partially but significantly escapes” immune protection from vaccines.
Saudi Arabia on Sunday reported 542 new COVID-19 infections, 1,041 recoveries and 13 virus-related deaths in 24 hours.
The majority of the cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh, Mecca, Eastern Saudi, Asir and Jazan, accounting for 168, 85, 62, 48, 46 infections respectively.