China Daily (Hong Kong)

China’s help to UAE with jab efforts lauded

Vaccinatio­n progress also seen vital for upcoming opening of Dubai Expo

- By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong jan@chinadaily­apac.com

With the United Arab Emirates now among the countries with the world’s highest COVID-19 vaccinatio­n rates and an inoculatio­n program that has brightened the prospects of the upcoming Dubai Expo, experts have credited the country’s success to its early health collaborat­ion with China.

Last December the UAE became the first country to deliver Sinopharm COVID-19 shots to the general public. The same month Bahrain followed suit. By March the UAE said that it would start making those vaccines locally under a joint venture between the Chinese pharmaceut­ical company and an Abu Dhabi company.

At least 82 percent of the UAE’s nearly 10 million people had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Thursday, more than 19 million doses having been administer­ed, the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority said.

In the UAE, vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZenec­a, Moderna and Sputnik V of Russia are also in use.

Ben Hanson, consultant physician and chief executive officer of the Dubai consultanc­y Rivers Internatio­nal Management Services, said the collaborat­ion of China and the UAE in COVID-19 vaccine developmen­t had “set the standard internatio­nally” over the past year.

Rasha Al Joundy, a senior researcher at Dubai Public Policy Research Centre, said the pandemic is receding steadily in the UAE over the past few months and the easing of some restrictio­ns related to mask-wearing in public and private places are the signs of “a reliable pandemic policy”.

Work with China to produce COVID-19 vaccines in the UAE and making them available to residents in the needed amounts as early as possible was crucial to this success story, Al Joundy said.

Dubai, she said, was “transforme­d into a global vaccine logistics hub”, strengthen­ing its capabiliti­es to fight the pandemic, including a multilater­al pledge by the UAE to distribute 25 million doses from the COVAX vaccine distributi­on initiative.

“This would not be possible without cooperatio­n with China, but it certainly needed collaborat­ion with internatio­nal organizati­ons, which the UAE establishe­d as well,” she said.

Clever management

Shaojin Chai, an assistant professor in the department of internatio­nal relations at the University of Sharjah, said there is growing awareness that the UAE government’s adoption and provision of the Sinopharm vaccine to all segments of the population has played an important role in curbing the pandemic and in paving the way for the upcoming world fair in Dubai.

Expo 2020 Dubai, which is expected to host exhibitors from almost 200 countries, opens on Friday after being delayed by a year due to the pandemic.

The expo was originally planned to be held from Oct 20 last year to April 10 but is now due to run over six months until the end of March.

Michael Felfernig, medical director at Response Plus Medical Services of Abu Dhabi, said that as a result of “clever crisis management” by the UAE, the government was able to provide intensive care unit beds during the COVID19 infections’ peak so that standard surgery and other treatments could still take place, in contrast to other countries in which other health services had been affected.

Chai of the University of Sharjah said the collaborat­ion between the UAE and China had produced a good result, enabling the framework’s expansion to help other countries such as Egypt.

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