Residents in the UAE will soon gain access to a UAE-produced vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), following the launch of a joint project between UAE’s G42 and Sinopharm in China that will bring forth ‘Hayat-Vax’ – the first-ever COVID-19 vaccine to be manufactured in the Arab region.
The groundbreaking project targets to produce at least two million doses per month.
‘Hayat’ (Arabic word for ‘life’) contains the same Sinopharm vaccine, which was successfully registered for emergency use by the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention on December 9, 2020. It was registered in China by the Chinese Center for Drug Evaluation (CDE) on December 30, 2020, following the updated Sinopharm interim results submitted in China showing 79.34% efficacy.
As of press time, production of the ‘Hayat-Vax’ is already ongoing with Ras Al Khaimah-based pharmaceutical firm, Julphar. Authorities affirmed that the new locally-produced vaccine will boost the UAE’s vaccination campaign; it will be available across over 200 medical centers all over the seven emirates.
His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, witnessed the announcement of the partnership during a high-profile ministerial event in Abu Dhabi, in the presence of dignitaries from the two nations.
“The advancement in Life Sciences and Vaccine Manufacturing in our country is UAE’s contribution towards global efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the whole world. The UAE, with the guidance of its wise leadership, believes in the importance of strengthening collective international action,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.
For his part, Liu Jingzhen said that the partnership between the UAE and Sinopharm paves the way for millions of residents to be vaccinated within months. “Sinopharm has undertaken the mission of fighting this pandemic and thanks to the close collaboration with the UAE, Sinopharm’s vaccine has been now administered to millions of people in the country, the region, and the world in a fundamental step towards defeating this virus. We are proud to partner with G42 in this new Joint Venture that will play a vital role in combatting COVID-19 globally, making an indelible contribution to the health of our communities,” said Liu.
Peng Xiao, CEO of UAE-based G42 stated that this collaboration proves that the UAE prioritizes the health of everyone living in the country.
“The launch of the vaccine manufacturing capabilities in the UAE is a momentous step in the fight against COVID-19. We are grateful to the shared vision of the UAE and China, their true partnership and collaboration to make this a reality. This initiative in the UAE is a strategic advancement to future proof the population health of our nations. Our JV is also actively looking to bring our capabilities to new markets around the world,” said the CEO.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) recently announced that the UAE has already provided at least 8.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, averaging around 70,000 to 100,000 doses per day.
From the preventive National Sterilization Programme last year, the UAE has now made a giant leap with NCEMA’s latest announcement stating that 62.57% of the target population or 6 out of 10 residents have already been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Over a year since the novel coronavirus pandemic struck the world, the UAE continues to implement its professional approach in handling & containing the spread, highlighting the UAE model for crisis management which balanced between health & economy, while keeping health as the priority,” said NCEMA in a statement.
As of April 7, the total number of free doses provided for everyone living in the UAE is at 8,659,503 with a rate of vaccine distribution of 87.55 doses per 100 people.
The UAE’s massive vaccination drive is buoyed by the efforts of medical frontliners of various nationalities, including the Filipinos. Rogelio Buezon, one of the nurse managers of the UAE’s ongoing vaccination program, stated that he too took the opportunity to get vaccinated last November 2020, in support for the UAE’s drive to protect its residents from the virus.
“Pakiramdam ko ay mas ligtas and protected ako ngayon from acquiring the disease. Knowing na may “double” proteksiyon ka na mula sa vaccine na binigay nang libre ng UAE, on top of your wearing mask, hand washing and social distancing,” said Buezon.
He added that he is profoundly grateful that the UAE is providing Filipinos here with free COVID-19 vaccine. “I’m so grateful to be in this country that we called our second home, thank you for taking good care of us,” added Buezon.
Michael Siapno, another COVID-19 response nurse, stated that the UAE’s prioritization of frontliners like himself is a testament to the UAE’s commitment to protecting the lives of the frontliners who continue to treat and provide care for those who are affected by COVID-19.
This is why he also took the jab not only to boost his immunity against the virus, but also to protect his fellow residents.
“Talagang na-appreciate ko po after ko nabakunahan ay yung pakiramdam na protekdado na ko sa sakit na COVID-19 at talagang malaking tulong itong bakuna sa akin lalo na ako ay isang frontliner,” said Siapno.
Siapno furthered that the UAE’s vision to provide a countrywide free vaccination program shows that they really care for everyone living here in the country, no matter where you come from.
“Sobrang pasasalamat ko sa UAE Leadership/Government sa ganitong uri ng vaccine program na nagbibigay ng libreng bakuna kontra COVID 19 sa lahat ng residente at expat dito sa UAE. Tunay na pinapakita nila ang pagpapahalaga at kaligtasan ng mga tao dito sa UAE at ipinapadama nila ang tunay na pagmamahal at pag aalaga sa lahat ng tao dito magkakaiba man ang lahi at relihiyon,” said Siapno.
Filipino educator hails UAE’s move to prioritize elderly in COVID-19 vaccination drive
When Dr. Ed Malagapo, a Filipino educator, decided to get the COVID-19 jab in the emirate of Dubai, he was pleasantly surprised by the level of care that health authorities and staff provide for the older adults.
Dr. Malagapo, 75, recalled that when he took his first dose in February 2021, it only took him five minutes to complete the entire process for his first dose; he was given priority as the rest of the senior citizens and senior residents alike.
“An amazing thing happened. My Ph.D. student, Engr. Vic Abejero, told me to dress up and pick me up after 5 minutes. We reached after 5 minutes to the center which was close to our flat. Upon reaching the clinic’s gate, we told the guard about my status as senior resident. We were told to see the nurse to start the process. It took as another 5 minutes to complete the 1st dose,” recalled Dr. Malagapo, who currently serves as the Dean of the Philippine Christian University in and is the recipient of 2017 The Filipino Times Rizal Award.
After his second dose, Dr. Malagapo continues to praise the UAE for affording its nationals and residents the COVID-19 vaccine to add another layer of protection against the virus.
“Wala akong naranasang side effect at ramdam ko na mas ligtas lumabas ngayon with the vaccine. Ang impact sa akin ay 100% confident akong makalabas habang sumusunod pa rin sa mga protocols ng UAE tulad ng social distancing at pagsusuot ng mask,” said Dr. Malagapo.