Filipino nurses in the UAE have once again shown their professionalism and expertise in the field of healthcare with their commitment to help the UAE in its ongoing vaccine trials to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In its site at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Center alone, over 140 Filipino healthcare professionals comprising mostly of nurses aid in this collaborative project recognized as the world’s first phase III COVID-19 inactivated vaccine trials.
Abu Dhabi-based G42 Healthcare leads the clinical trials in the UAE in coordination with the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), Ministry of Health and Prevention and Chinese pharmaceutical major Sinopharm under the supervision of the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi.
Filipinos are seen in every corner of the vaccine trial phases that began last July 16. From the initial COVID-19 swab tests, face-to-face assessments and in administering the vaccine that targets up to 15,000 volunteers in the country, Filipino healthcare professionals play a vital role in ensuring that all volunteers are ready to participate across all five sites in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
Leading fellow nurses
Among the Filipino frontliners leading the COVID-19 vaccine trials is Michael Siapno who brings with him almost a decade of experience as a nurse. As the overall team leader, Siapno ensures that all operations within each zone of the COVID-19 vaccine trial run smooth.
“Ako po ang gumagabay sa mga nurses na naka assign sa bawat zone kung saan ginagawa ang mga Assessment, Vaccine at Face to Face Assessment. Sinisigurado ko po na ang lahat ng mga concern ng ating mga volunteers ay nasasagot naming mga frontliners para maging panatag ang kalooban nila sa kanilang partisipasyon para makahanap ang UAE ng epektibong vaccine laban sa COVID-19,” said Siapno.
Fellow Filipino nurse-in-charge Arvin Ong likewise helps organize and keep volunteers in check.
“The UAE’s ongoing vaccine trials give humanity a chance to finally fight and beat this COVID-19 pandemic, with the collaborative work of frontliners and researchers in different cultures and expertise. My role in this as the nurse in charge is to facilitate the nursing operations to make sure our patients’ journey from registration, assessment clinics, blood extractions, vaccination up until patient observation are all well organized,” shares Ong.
Efficiency in multitasking
Filipino expats are known to be among the most flexible and adaptable workers in the country, and those who work in the field of healthcare are no exception.
Dianne Erika Fajardo, who has been in the country for over 10 years as a registered nurse, said that she has already made the rounds in assisting across all areas of the project. She thanks the UAE for its sincere care for the health and safety of both citizens and residents of the country as she has witnessed its comprehensive steps that has now reached a milestone in its aim to find the vaccine.
“I am thankful to UAE for having the initiative to be the first to perform the Phase III of inactivated Covid-19 vaccine trials in the world. I hope and pray that this will be a success and that this is the answer that we are all praying for. It is indeed an honor to be part of this project and I am very proud to be a Filipino frontliner here in the UAE,” said Fajardo.
John Philip Delgado whose tasks include administering the vaccine to volunteers, thanks the UAE for providing the opportunity for him and his fellow Filipino frontliners to be part of a historical mission for humanity’s sake.
“It’s been an overwhelming and rewarding experience to be one of the selected healthcare professionals to combat this pandemic COVID-19 as frontliner. And it’s even more fulfilling to become member of the Phase III Clinical Trial Mission and be a part of the history. UAE Government is doing a great job from day one up to this moment. They’re serving well their residents, both locals and expatriates, to fight and defeat this pandemic. From free COVID 19 testing up to hospitalization, and now the vaccine trials, the UAE has shown that it goes all out to serve everyone living in this country,” said Delgado.
Siapno urges fellow Filipino frontliners working in other medical institutions to keep the faith as they have all been instrumental in keeping the UAE’s number of COVID-19 active cases low.
“Bilang isa sa mga fronliners at naglilingkod sa mga pasyente na may COVID-19, tayo ay tinagurian na bayani, at sa pagtanggap natin sa hamon na ito, at maging sa likod ng banta ng nakakamatay ng sakit na ito, tayo pa rin ay patuloy at matapang na naglilingkod sa mga pasyente at nangangailangan ng tulong pangkalusogan, lagi kong dasal na ang Dios nawa ay bigyan pa tayo ng ibayong lakas para tayo ay patuloy na walang sawang maglingkod. Tuloy lang ang laban at huwag tayong bumitaw sa mga sinumpaan nating mga tungkulin,” said Siapno.
Ong adds that this is an opportunity for Filipinos to show the world their resilience and perseverance to help the country fight the spread of COVID-19: “Do not give up, hold on tight as we will fight as one.”
Fajardo stated that it’s the efforts of each individual that made a huge impact in the country’s fight against the virus: “Remember that it all starts from each one of us, through self discipline, to ensure the safety of ourselves, our loved ones and people around us. The whole world is affected by this pandemic but we should not lose hope.”
Delgado hopes that Filipino expats would help flatten the curve by adhering to the UAE’s preventive measures to ensure that they keep themselves safe to continue providing for their families in need back home.
“Sa aking mga kapwa Pilipino dito sa UAE, lagi po tayong mag iingat, alagaan po natin ang ating mga sarili. Tayo po bilang mga manggagawang Pinoy dito sa UAE ay nangangailangan ng magandang kalusugan para sa ating mga pamilya na umaasa sa atin sa Pinas. Kooperasyon at disiplina sa ating mga sarili ay isang malaking tulong na po sa pagsugpo ng virus na ito,” said Delgado.
The COVID-19 vaccine trials are expected to last from six to eight months’ time. If the COVID-19 vaccine being tested in the UAE is confirmed safe and effective throughout the entire clinical trial process, the test is considered a success and can now enter a large-scale manufacturing phase for eventual distribution.