The Saudi government has moved to ban people from travelling abroad unless they have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, amid fears one shot is not enough to protect against virus variants, according to the state press agency.

On Monday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said that the government had decided to make it mandatory for citizens to receive two shots of a Covid-19 vaccine before being able to travel abroad. 

The measure will come into force on August 9 but will exclude those under the age of 12. The statement says that citizens must also submit an approved insurance policy before travelling. 

Citing an official source within the Ministry of the Interior, the SPA said that the measures were being brought in as part of tireless efforts to control emerging Covid-19 variants. The source highlighted concerns about the low levels of effectiveness of a single dose in the face of these mutations.

While more than half the Saudi population have received one dose, only around 12% have been given their second jab, according to online trackers. Three vaccines used in the kingdom – AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer – require two shots for full immunity. The country has also approved the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

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