Asim al Shedi
Muscat: Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health described the Sultanate’s reporting on Wednesday of zero deaths associate with Covid-19 for the first time in eight months as ‘a success for all’ and not for the ministry of health alone adding that the people’s awareness and commitment has contributed to the decrease in both infection cases and mortality rate.
In an exclusive interview with the minister of health made by Oman Arabic Newspaper, sister publication of the Oman Observer via phone, the minister called on the public to show more commitment to the preventive measures considering it as the best solution for containing the pandemic.
The minister considered the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients as ‘comfortable’. He added that the Sultanate is seeing a record decline in the number of cases.
Commenting on the Sultanate’s efforts to procure vaccines, Al Saeedi said the Sultanate has reserved 1 million doses of the vaccine from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) which represents 20 per cent of the Sultanate’s need. However, the minister added that the delivery of this quantity depends on several factors including the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
The minister of health affirmed that the Sultanate has directly contracted with Pfizer and booked 370,000 vaccine doses 20,000 of which will be delivered during this month and the remainder will arrive at the beginning of next year. A single dose of the vaccine arriving this month costs $30 while the prices of the vaccine that will arrive in 2021 has been set at $24 for a single dose. People will need two doses of the vaccine.
Al Saeedi said that the Sultanate is also holding negotiations with AstraZeneca, another developer of coronavirus vaccine and has reserved 850,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, however the vaccine is yet to be approved. The company has set a fair price of $5.5 for a single dose.
The minister of health pointed out the start of negotiations with the Indian company manufacturing the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V which is due to be clear within days. The price of a single dose of this vaccine is up to $15.
The minister said there is also a Chinese vaccine the final results of which we have not received formally. China has put a hefty price tag of $145 for two doses of its vaccine. He expects China to reconsider the pricing of the vaccine price in light of the prices of the other global vaccines.
The minister of health said that the vaccines will be given on a health basis only noting that all countries are prioritizing the medical professionals and frontline workers such as airports staff and those largely coming in contact with masses as well as people with chronic diseases. He noted that the vaccine won’t be mandatory and that there is no law that forces anyone to take the vaccine.