"We will never leave anybody behind." These were the words spoken by Oman’s Minister of Health, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi, just minutes after he became the first person in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Oman began its National Immunisation Campaign against the coronavirus this week, with vaccines already being distributed across all of the governorates across the country, with more doses expected soon.
“I want to assure everybody that making these vaccines in a short period of time has never compromised their safety or their efficacy,” said the Minister of Health. “They went through exactly the same steps – the three clinical trials were conducted the same way, the number of participants in these trials was also high enough to reach the statistical efficacy that we are looking for.
“This vaccine has proved to be safe and effective, but unfortunately, we cannot get enough of them,” he added. “We want to vaccinate 60 percent of our population: Omanis and non-Omanis. The Ministry of Health has put criteria on who should receive vaccination priorities. This will also be published, but what I want to assure everyone of is that we will never leave anybody behind.”
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, as of 29 December, 128,633 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the country. 121,356 of those who have tested positive for the disease have recovered, leading to a recovery rate of 94.3 per cent.
Just 11 people have required admission over the last 24 hours, and the total number of patients currently in ICUs stands at just 34, a significant drop from where Oman was a couple months ago. There are now just 85 COVID patients in health centres in the country. Sadly, though, 1,497 people in the country have lost their lives from the disease.
“Since October, by the grace of God, the number of cases in the country are coming down, both in terms of confirmed cases, admission numbers, and ICU patients,” explained Al Saidi. “Yesterday, we had only 37 cases in intensive care across the whole country. A couple of months ago, we had 220. This would not have happened without the adherence of almost everybody to the healthy behavioural practices we have been mentioning again and again.”
The minister went on to say, “The healthcare staff have been the heroes of this period, they have worked under difficult conditions, but they have proved that they deserve the thanks and trust we all give them,. I cannot thank them enough, and it’s not just at the Ministry of Health: everybody in the healthcare sector, whether public or private, and the supporting agencies as well.”
The Ministry of Health ran several awareness campaigns educating people on the adoption of proper hygiene and healthcare practices to help keep the coronavirus at bay. It continues to do so, in parallel with a campaign encouraging people in the country to come forward to be vaccinated.
“The media’s role to spread the facts about the vaccine and the disease is extremely important. There have been so many videos, so many rumours circulating on social media that have nothing to do with science, nothing to do with safety of vaccination,” said the minister. “I urge everybody to avoid watching them.
“In Oman, before we had our vaccination programmes, we used to lose at least 20 percent of new born babies before the age of five years,” admitted Al Saidi. “That rate used to be 180 per thousand, and that number has dropped to less than nine. Those who unfortunately claim they know about vaccines and say they are harmful do not have any scientific basis." – [email protected]