Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah

KUWAIT: Kuwait has contracted with US pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to supply it with their coronavirus vaccines, Minister of Health Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah said on Sunday. In an interview with Kuwait TV, Sheikh Basel expected delivery of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the last quarter of this year. Commenting on the delay in the delivery of vaccine doses from certain producers, the minister argued that around 75 percent of vaccines produced are given to only 10 countries, while the remaining go to countries around the world.

Sheikh Basel said the delay in receiving vaccines is not a problem faced only by Kuwait, but also all Gulf states and many other countries. He assured those waiting for the second jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine that the vaccine doses have arrived and are stored in the country. The producer, however, recommended pre-usage tests, he said, noting AstraZeneca is expected to deliver the test results on June 8.

If the results are positive, vaccination will start directly, Sheikh Basel stressed, pointing out that the ministry has a plan to vaccinate the 200,000 people who are waiting for the second dose in 10 days. But if AstraZeneca demands more time to send the results, beneficiaries will have the choice of getting a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, he said.

“We are approaching herd immunity, but there are challenges, including the lack of vaccines,” Sheikh Basel said. Controlling this pandemic needs a fair distribution of vaccines to all countries to stop the mutation of the virus, he explained. The minister affirmed that the country’s pandemic situation is stable, despite registering new infections on a daily basis, like in other countries. He noted that the ministry records all positive cases with or without symptoms, unlike many other countries, which register only those who have symptoms.

Sheikh Basel lauded the implementation of preventive measures across the country, hoping for continued abidance by these measures until the end of the pandemic. Cooperation by citizens and expats helped the ministry implement preventive and precautionary measures and protected the medical system over the past 16 months, he said.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet decided yesterday to operate direct flights to the United Kingdom from Sunday, June 13, with adherence to health precautions against COVID-19. The Cabinet tasked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to organize the direct flights to the UK (Kuwait-London-Kuwait) at a frequency of one flight per week for each airline, according to a statement posted by the government communications center on Twitter. The Cabinet also decided to reopen museums and cultural institutions and facilities from Sunday, provided visitors and staff adhere to anti-COVID measures.- KUNA