Saudi Arabia vaccine policy has made it difficult for Pakistani travelers to enter the Kingdom. Many Pakistanis who work in KSA have been sharing their difficulties on social media for quite some time. The reason is that the KSA has not accepted Chinese vaccines yet. The Saudi government has its own set of recommended vaccines and it is mandatory for travelers to only get vaccinated by one of those.
Most Pakistanis have been vaccinated by Chinese-manufactured vaccines due to which the Kingdom refused to take them in. Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Quraishi requested the Saudi government to recognize Chinese vaccines as even World Health Organization (WHO) has approved them.
Saudi Arabia Vaccine Policy is Making Lives Miserable
There were several cases of Pakistani workers urging multiple authorities on social media, in hopes that someone would save their livelihoods and careers. Moreover, those who did not receive shots from Saudi-recommended vaccines would have to go through a self-financed quarantine if they enter the Kingdom. It is very concerning for those working in manual labor, who won’t be able to afford such restrictions.
Currently, only Pfizer-BioNtech, Oxford-Astrazeneca, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen are on the Saudi Arabia vaccine recommendation list. Some travelers who already used one of the Chinese vaccines were wondering if there was another way to get vaccinated again. They were also concerned about taking a different brand of vaccine after already getting one, just to follow Saudi Arabia vaccine standards.
Some Pakistanis requested their own government to procure the vaccines more popular than Chinese ones. They hoped that the government could reserve such vaccines for only those who were traveling to countries that do not accept vaccines manufactured by China. They mentioned their concern regarding the gap between two doses of vaccination. There are chances that their visas may get expire during that time.
Which Vaccines are Being Administered in Pakistan?
Pakistan launched its coronavirus vaccination drive on 2nd February 2021, after China sent the first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine. Pakistan began vaccinating its frontline healthcare workers first then the campaign gradually extended to include citizens above certain ages. Two more Chinese vaccines being used in Pakistan are CanSino and Sinovac. According to reports, the Sinopharm vaccine is 79% effective, CanSino is 65.7%, and Sinovac has a 65% efficacy rate.
Besides Chinese vaccines, Pakistan has also administered Russian Sputnik-V and Oxford-AstraZeneca, which meet the requirement of Saudi Arabia vaccine regulations. However, Oxford’s vaccine is just reserved for citizens above 40 years due to its cost and alleged side effects in young patients. The most serious of these side effects can be the extremely rare case of unusual blood clotting.
Reportedly, 0.6% of the Pakistani population has been vaccinated. Pakistani gave around 5.36 million total doses out of which 1.29 million Pakistanis have been fully vaccinated.
Is Vaccine Nationalism Stopping Saudi for Accepting Chinese Vaccines?
As soon as the COVID-19 vaccines began to come out, the world witnessed another horrific face of humanity in vaccine nationalism. This phenomenon is related to governments who sign contracts with pharmaceutical companies to supply their own populations before they become available for other countries.
Wealthy countries like the US, UK, and EU procured promising vaccines in large quantities in the beginning. It proved to be crippling for developing and under-developed countries. The issue of vaccine hoarding was raised by many countries and institutions.
When the vaccines were introduced, The UK managed to get more than 450 million doses of vaccines, which were 3.6 times its actual population. Moreover, the US received 1.2 billion doses which could have vaccinated the entire America 2 times. EU also received 2.7 times more vaccination doses than its population. Brazil, on the other hand, received only a few doses that were only enough for 55% of its population.
It is worrisome because this behavior by so-called world leaders can disrupt the progress of curbing the COVID-19 pandemic. Saudi Arabia vaccine laws are problematic in a similar way because they have nationalized the same vaccines which were hoarded by the western world in quantities.