Covid-19: Dubai launches free Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination campaign

Dubai - The vaccine is 95% effective against the virus.

By Saman Haziq

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Published: Tue 22 Dec 2020, 9:49 PM

Last updated: Wed 23 Dec 2020, 1:31 AM

Dubai is rolling out the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 virus starting today. Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management issued a statement saying that an extensive vaccination campaign against Covid-19 will kick off in the emirate on Wednesday.

The “mRNA vaccine” developed by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNTech will be given free for residents.

This is the second voluntary vaccine roll out in the country after the UAE began administering China’s Sinopharm vaccine to all citizens and residents free of cost from December 9.

While Sinopharm vaccine is 86 per cent effective, according to UAE regulators, Pfizer’s test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 after two doses — administered 21 days apart — with no serious safety concerns.

The UAE is one of the first countries to start widespread inoculation after Britain became the first to roll out a campaign using the Pfizer vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for use in the UK, US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.

Also read: Abu Dhabi eases entry requirements for residents, tourists

On Monday, US President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on live television to reassure Americans of the vaccine’s safety.

Also read: What happens after getting Pfizer vaccine

In a recent statement, BioNTech chief executive said he was confident that this vaccine will works against the new UK variant, but that further studies are needed to be certain.

Uğur Şahin told a Press conference that his team had been working on trying to find out whether the vaccine worked on the UK variant or whether it would be necessary to adapt it. Results would be known within two weeks, he said.

Şahin said the proteins on the UK variant were 99 per cent the same as those on the prevailing strains, and therefore. BioNTech had “scientific confidence” that its vaccine would be effective. “We believe there is no reason to be concerned or worried.”

While Sinopharm vaccines need be refrigerated at temperatures of only 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (or 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) and could remain stable for up to three years, Pfizer vaccine, which is made with genetic materials that fall apart when they thaw, requires industrial freezers and must remain at cold temperatures — negative 70 degrees Celsius (negative 94 degree Fahrenheit).

To store the vaccines safely, Abu Dhabi Ports has a 19,000-square metre temperature-controlled warehouse facility on 40,000 square metre plot in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) that has the capacity to store and distribute 70 million vaccines.

The warehouse logistics is split into mainly three core areas. There is an eight-chamber cold storage maintained at 2 to 8 degrees for the Covid-19 vaccines, eight freezers at -80 degrees for ultra-cold vaccines and an air-conditioned area kept at 18 to 26 degrees for medical equipment like goods like personal protective equipment, syringes, hospital equipment, and medical supplies.

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