The number of Saudis registering to receive the coronavirus vaccine has doubled in the last three days, the Saudi Health Ministry has said, predicting that registrations “could soon pass the 1 million mark.”
After Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Saudis began to register en masse to join the inoculation plan, according to Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah.
“Registration to receive the COVID-19 vaccine increased five-fold in the Kingdom hours after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received his first dose,” he said.
The ministry announced earlier that more than 737,000 people already signed up to receive the vaccine following the launch of the national inoculation campaign last week.
Appearing on Saudi news channel Al-Ekhbariya, Dr. Hani Jokhdar, deputy minister for public health, said that the ministry expects the number of people registered to exceed 1 million in the next few days.
Jokhdar, who is an infectious disease control and prevention consultant, said that after receiving a second dose of the vaccine, the human body becomes fully immunized against coronavirus in about 10 days.
Jokhdar allayed fears over the new mutation of coronavirus, saying “it is the same disease.”
He said: “The coronavirus has just genetically mutated to take another form, but with the same characteristics. This mutation did not change the nature of the virus, its form or even the diseases and symptoms it is known to cause.”
He added that, while some studies have found that the mutation can spread faster, some doubts still remain over its potency.
“The findings are still under extensive studies and evaluation. Even in the countries where the mutant strains of the virus were reported, doctors deal with the patients the same way they do with COVID-19,” he said. “Ordinary people cannot differentiate between the two types. Physicians can. However, patients with both coronavirus and the new strain are given the same medication.”
The genetic transformation of coronavirus has neither changed the nature of the virus or made it more ferocious, he added.
The deputy minister said that the Health Ministry is examining all available scientific reports on the new strain.
The ministry earlier urged the public to take part in the vaccination drive by registering through the Sehaty app. The vaccination will be carried out in three stages, with each stage targeting a specific demographic. The ministry also reassured the country of the vaccine’s safety
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday reported 10 new COVID-19-related deaths. The death toll now stands at 6,214.
There were 113 new cases reported in the Kingdom, meaning 362,601 people have now contracted the disease. There are 2,705 active cases, 387 of which are in critical condition.
According to the ministry, 44 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, 18 in Makkah and 13 in Madinah.
In addition, 170 more patients have recovered from coronavirus, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 353,682.
Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 10,973,855 PCR tests, with 36,149 carried out in the past 24 hours.
Saudi health clinics set up by the ministry as testing hubs or treatment centers have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the Kingdom since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Among those testing hubs are Taakad (make sure) centers and Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms, such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.
Appointments to either service can be made through the health ministry’s Sehaty app.