Saudi Minister Gets Covid Vaccine as Kingdom Offers Free Shots

Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah received a shot of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s coronavirus vaccine, a day after the kingdom got the first batch of the vaccine.

“Today marks the beginning of a relief of this crisis,” he told state-run Ekhbariya TV. “During the last nine months, I anxiously watched the number of registered cases. But today, I’ll be happily watching the number of those who are vaccinated.”

Saudi Arabia plans to offer the vaccine free to all residents in the kingdom. The country, which has reported about 360,000 cases and 6,080 deaths, began lifting coronavirus lockdowns from May. Officials haven’t imposed any new restrictions since then, and the country has so far avoided another wave of infections.

Saudi Arabia earlier this week asked citizens and residents to sign up for its vaccination program. The first phase will include people most exposed to the disease, while the second and third stages will target those over 50 before the vaccine is made available to the wider public.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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