Saudi Arabia working on coronavirus vaccine with Chinese company

In this picture taken on April 29, 2020, an engineer takes samples of monkey kidney cells as he make tests on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. (AFP)
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Updated 10 August 2020

Saudi Arabia working on coronavirus vaccine with Chinese company

JEDDAH: The third phase of a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial is to be carried out on at least 5,000 volunteers in Saudi Arabia after clearing mid-stage tests.
In an effort to expedite vaccines against coronavirus, the Ministry of Health announced its preparedness to launch the third phase in health centers across Riyadh, Makkah and Dammam. The clinical trials come as part of a ministry agreement with the Chinese vaccine developing company CanSino.
The findings of the first randomized controlled trial, published in The Lancet, resulted in the vaccine appearing to be safe and inducing a significant immune response in the majority of recipients in the second phase.
The vaccine uses a harmless cold virus, known as adenovirus type-5 (Ad5), to carry genetic material from coronavirus into the body.The volunteers will be over the age of 18.
Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly told a press conference on Sunday that epidemiological analysis had shown a fluctuation in confirmed coronavirus cases, with a slight increase potentially caused by social gatherings during Eid Al-Adha that did not adhere to health protocols.

“These numbers are currently at a slight increase, but they are not a cause of major concern (at the moment) for outbreaks or clusters,” the spokesman said.
Estimates of COVID-19 patients needing critical care have decreased in the past three days and the current curve shows a 5.5 percent decrease in admissions. There are currently 1,816 patients in Saudi Arabia receiving critical care.
The Kingdom recorded 1,428 new cases on Sunday, raising the total number of infections to 288,690 since the beginning of the pandemic.
There were 1,599 new recoveries, raising the total number of recoveries to 252,039. There are currently 33,484 active cases.
Saudi Arabia recorded 37 new fatalities on Sunday, raising the coronavirus death toll to  3,167.
There have been 58,424 polymerase chain reaction tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to over 3.8 million.


Ithra marks National Day with exhibitions, competitions and performances

Updated 8 min 14 sec ago

Ithra marks National Day with exhibitions, competitions and performances

  • The study reveals a need to protect and preserve Saudi heritage in the face of cultural homogenization

RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is marking Saudi Arabia’s 90th National Day with exhibitions, a scavenger hunt, a fine dining pop-up, and artistic performances.

The center started its National Day celebrations on Sept. 21 and the activities run through to Sept. 26. 

Rania Biltagi, the head of communication and partnerships at Ithra, said she hoped that people this year would ask themselves what being Saudi meant to them.

“I am proud to be part of an organization created as a creative and cultural destination perfectly positioned to drive and participate in conversations such as these,” she told Arab News. “Our mandate involves igniting cultural curiosity, exploring knowledge and inspiring creativity, and it’s a task we don’t take lightly.”

“Saudi at heart, multicultural by nature” had been the Ithra motto from the start, she said, and the center was always looking inward even as it looked outward.

Biltagi shared the results of research that Ithra had conducted about the impact of globalization on Saudi Arabia’s culture.

“The study reveals a need to protect and preserve Saudi heritage in the face of cultural homogenization. However, it also shows that Saudis are willing and able to embrace modernity and globalization while still cherishing their unique national identity.”

Ithra has created the “Kingdom of Cultures” exhibition, which will take visitors on an interactive and state-of-the-art journey through Saudi Arabia’s lands and tell stories about the Saudi people. It will also feature crafts, dialects and customs.

Writer and Saudi heritage expert Ali Ibrahim Moghawi said he was honored to be participating in the festival as part of the “Flower Men” booth.

“To be representing our great nation at the very place where oil was first discovered, a place that represents the heart of progress in Saudi Arabia, the place that has done the most to respect our heritage and support every Saudi generation future, past, and present, is an honor,” he told Arab News.

Ithra has scheduled musical performances from Saudi band Al-Farabi, which will also feature the pianist Abeer Balubaid and singer Ameen Farsi. Award-winning poet Abdulatif Almubarak will host an evening of poetry – “Aswat” – accompanied by musicians in a celebration of Saudi civilization.

The center has devised a pop-up restaurant called Takya, which will offer guests a fine dining experience with Saudi fusion cuisine and modern takes on old favorites.

It has also announced plans to revamp and renovate an old farmer’s market in Alkhobar’s Al-Ulaya district to give it an energetic and artsy edge. The covered space is being redecorated and will feature areas for art and music, in addition to a dedicated and upgraded space where local farmers can sell their produce.

Ithra plans to curate installations at the market to make it more visually appealing as well as to take art and creativity directly to the community.

It has scheduled two celebration sessions a day with limited space and occupancy. The first runs from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. while the second is from 8:30 p.m. until midnight.

Tickets to the events, as well as the special performances, are available on Ithra’s website.