Diplomats praise Saudi initiative to hold virtual summit

Neil Crompton, British ambassador
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Updated 26 March 2020

Diplomats praise Saudi initiative to hold virtual summit

  • The leaders will discuss the global coordinated response to the pandemic

RIYADH: As the world is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, the Saudi leadership has called for an extraordinary virtual summit of G20 leaders on Thursday.

The leaders will discuss the global coordinated response to the pandemic. In an unprecedented move, the summit will be held online and in March, as opposed to the usual date in November.

“The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. The UK will work with our friends and allies in the G20 and beyond to galvanize a stronger global effort, coordinate public health measures, increase the resilience of the most vulnerable health systems, restore business confidence and protect jobs,” British Ambassador Neil Crompton told Arab News.

“Thursday’s extraordinary G20 Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, is an important opportunity to discuss urgent and coordinated international fiscal action to protect the global economy.”

Chinese Ambassador Chen Weiqing told Arab News that his country “highly appreciates the wise and responsible attitude of Saudi leaders in calling for the first virtual extraordinary summit as Saudi Arabia holds the current presidency of the G20.”

“China is ready to work with Saudi Arabia and the international community to continue to address global public health security challenges,” he said.

Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said: “The virtual summit will serve as a mechanism for the leaders of the G20 member states to share the best practices in order to combat both the health as well as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

South Korean Ambassador Jo Byung-wook said: “As the president of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, has already expressed his welcoming remarks during his phone call with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 24, 2020, Korea sincerely appreciates Saudi Arabia’s initiative for the upcoming extraordinary virtual summit of the G20 leaders.”

He added: “We have an urgent need for collaboration at the G20 level as the entire world is suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Swift action taken by the Saudi leadership has made it possible to hold the virtual summit, he said.

The leaders at the summit will address ongoing efforts to control the pandemic, building confidence, and mitigating the economic and social impact of the outbreak, the South Korean envoy ambassador said.


Major Saudi research center prepares to take part in advanced COVID-19 vaccine trials

Updated 22 September 2020

Major Saudi research center prepares to take part in advanced COVID-19 vaccine trials

  • Ministry of Health and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center have been working with two Chinese drug companies

JEDDAH: King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) in Saudi Arabia is preparing to take part in advanced trials of one or two COVID-19 vaccines.

About 40 potential vaccines are being tested on humans, nine of which are at the advanced stage of clinical trials to evaluate their safety and effectiveness in protecting people against a virus that has infected more than 31 million people around the world.

The center confirmed its readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and participate in tests of one or two of the nine vaccines that are in the third phase of clinical trials, during which large-scale testing on humans takes place.

Dr. Naif Al-Harbi, the head of KAIMRC’s drug-development unit, told Al-Ekhbariya TV news channel that it is unprecedented to have nine vaccines in stage three of clinical trials so soon, less than a year, after the emergence of a new virus.

“Approval or disapproval of any drug normally follows the third stage of its clinical trials, which is the last stage,” he added. “Since the pandemic, KAIMRC has been in continuous contact with a number of drug companies in four countries (that are developing vaccines).”

KAIMRC has been working with one Chinese pharmaceutical company in particular to help evaluate and accelerate the development of its vaccine, he said.

“Over the past two months, we have been in contact with Sinovac to scientifically evaluate its product, in term of the tests on animals and a study of the results of stages one and two on humans,” Al-Harbi said.