COVID-19: Saudi Arabia approves Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin

Riyadh: In a major relief to thousands of non-resident Indians (NRI) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia on Monday announced that the gulf country has now included Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in its list of approved COVID-19 vaccinations.

The embassy of India in Saudi Arabia took to Twitter and wrote, “Embassy is pleased to inform that Indian nationals vaccinated with ‘Covaxin’ are now approved to enter the Kingdom.Vaccine certificates are to be uploaded at Ministry of Health website for residents and at Muqeem website for visitors.

On November 3, 2021, the WHO granted approval for Emergency Use Listing of Covaxin and said that the Bharat Biotech’s vaccine was found to have 78 per cent efficacy against the COVID-19 of any severity, 14 or more days after the second dose.

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Saudi Arabia approved vaccines are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca,  Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm,  Sinovac and Covaxin.

In recent days, Covaxin has been recognised by several countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Bahrain, Oman, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia, among others. It is expected to rise in the coming days.

On December 15, 2021, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on Tuesday announced that the foreign pilgrims aged 12 years and above will be allowed to enter the Kingdom and perform Umrah.

On December 2, 2021, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that the institutional quarantine is not required for those foreign Umrah pilgrims who have taken two doses of COVID-19 vaccines approved in the Kingdom.

On November 27, 2021, the Kingdom has dropped the maximum age limit of 50 years for foreign pilgrims performing Umrah.

On November 13, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah launched a service enabling overseas Umrah pilgrims to obtain permits for performing the rituals in the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Pilgrims will also be permitted to offer their respects to Prophet Mohammed in Medina through the health apps Eatmarna and Tawakkalna after registering in the platform Qudum.

The temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims was lifted and the service resumed on November 1, 2020, and overseas pilgrims were allowed to stay for 10 days only as part of efforts to limit COVID-19 spread.

On October 17, due to a consequential decline in COVID-19 cases and a considerable development in vaccinations in the Kingdom, the interior ministry of Saudi Arabia eased COVID-19 restrictions.

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