By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: It’s been nearly a month since the coronavirus vaccination campaign kicked off in Kuwait, and the latest announced number of people who have been vaccinated is 20,000. People are wondering how long the vaccination process will take, considering it could last for years, which means that life won’t get back to normal soon.

According to Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad, Spokesman of the Ministry of Health, the vaccination drive should be completed within a year. “Kuwait’s population is 4,464,521, and after excluding those under 15 years old, pregnant women, those with severe allergies and those who are not interested in getting vaccinated, the number of people who could be vaccinated is 2,775,000,” he told Kuwait Times.

There is intense competition from all countries to import the vaccine. “Kuwait signed a contract to receive a certain number of vaccines, but haven’t received it all yet. We are receiving them on a weekly basis. Soon, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be approved worldwide, so we will receive many more vaccines. We hope to finish the vaccination process within one year,” added Sanad.

In order to complete the vaccination of 2,775,000 people within a year, over 231,000 people should be vaccinated every month, which is far from the number reached in the first month. Kuwait Times hasn’t received the number of people inoculated daily or the number of vaccines that have been received. Dr Sanad noted the numbers will be announced soon, adding the situation will change after receiving other vaccine doses.

The Ministry of Health had announced on Thursday the rescheduling of future coronavirus vaccination appointments, as shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech will be delayed for Kuwait and the entire world because of a halt in factory production. The company will not export the amount of vaccines agreed upon to many countries for a period of time, so the ministry will reschedule future dates (those who haven’t received text messages yet) to ensure a continuous vaccination campaign, the ministry said.

The statement also highlighted that all those who previously booked appointments have received text messages for the first shot of the coronavirus vaccination and the second shot too. All those who have already been vaccinated and are waiting for their second shot will also receive their inoculation on time according to their appointment without any change. The rescheduling is for future appointments only.

Dr Sanad also noted that those who were vaccinated may be protected from getting infected, but there is no evidence yet that these vaccinated people will not infect others with the virus if they are not showing symptoms. “So those who have been vaccinated should still follow health precautions until we reach herd immunity,” he cautioned.