Coronavirus Pandemic

KT Explains: Who has access to Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE?

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on October 15, 2020 | Last updated on October 15, 2020 at 07.34 am
Covid-19 vaccine, UAE, Covid-19, vaccine

Over 31,000 volunteered for the trials in just six weeks, including 1,000 residents with chronic diseases.

As the UAE leads global efforts in developing a Covid-19 vaccine, thousands of its residents and citizens have already taken a jab - either as clinical trial volunteers or frontliners.

The country started administering a jab in July, as it carried out the third and last phase of clinical trials for the inactivated Covid-19 vaccine developed by China's state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm. Over 31,000 volunteered for the trials in just six weeks, including 1,000 residents with chronic diseases.

On Monday, it was announced that the country is set to take part in another phase 3 clinical trial - this time for the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V. Russian authorities licensed the jab for domestic use in August and it is currently being tested on 40,000 volunteers in Moscow. Once the UAE trials start - as managed by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) - volunteers will be medically supervised for 90 days after taking the vaccine.

RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said the UAE has demonstrated "one of the most advanced approaches in the world" to combat the coronavirus pandemic. "We are pleased to commence the trials and we look forward to announcing in due course the registration process for volunteers."

Details for the Sputnik V vaccine trials in the country are expected to be released soon.

Vaccine for emergency use

So far, besides the current clinical trial volunteers, UAE frontliners have been given access to the Sinopharm vaccine after it was granted approval for emergency use.

After the successful trials on two strains of the vaccine, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) on September 14 approved its use for workers and professionals who are at highest risk of contracting the virus.

Soon after the approval, AbdulRahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, received his first dose.

Al Owais earlier said that the Sinopharm jab is safe and effective.The side effects reported so far have been "mild and expected, like any other vaccine", another official had said.

Up until now, doctors, nurses, police officers, teachers, aviation sector workers and judicial officials are among the people who have been receiving the Covid-19 vaccine as part of its emergency use in the country.

On September 21, teachers of public schools in Abu Dhabi were given the option to register and get the Covid-19 vaccine. Principals received an official circular that confirmed the inclusion of teachers, administrative staff and their immediate family members in the priority categories.

A part of the circular said: "The UAE has announced the emergency use of the vaccine for frontline workers who deal with Covid-19 patients, with the aim of safeguarding these heroes and protecting them from any dangers they may face due to the nature of their work...Teachers and other academic staff have been included among the priority groups for getting the Covid-19 vaccine. This also includes their family members (first degree) who are aged above 18 years. Taking the Covid-19 vaccine is optional for those who are eligible."

In the latest initiative organised by UAE health authorities, several Emiratis also received the vaccine from Al Tawiyah Majlis (Council) in Al Ain city under the emergency use permit.

Volunteers were intensively monitored for approximately 42 days. They needed to visit the testing centres at least 17 times. During that time, the individual was required not to travel outside the country and needs to have easy access to clinics. After this, periodic follow-ups are conducted via teleconsultation for up to six months.

Ministry officials earlier announced that Sinopharm's Covid jab is expected to be ready for the general public either by the end of this year or early next year.


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