Saudi Arabia signed a deal worth more than USD 264 million with China to provide the kingdom with the ability to conduct 9 million COVID-19 tests.
The deal signed Sunday and announced by Saudi Arabia also provides the kingdom with 500 personnel to conduct the tests in six laboratories that will be established across the country.
Saudi Arabia says the agreement with China's BGI Group indicates the kingdom is “in a race against time to diagnose cases and to work to isolate them.”
The contract also includes conducting comprehensive community testing, genetic mapping of a number of samples in the kingdom, and analysis of immunity mapping from 1 million samples.
Saudi Arabia has also signed agreements with companies in the US, South Korea and Switzerland with the aim of testing 40 per cent of people in the country.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
More than 17,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in Saudi Arabia, including more than 130 deaths.