Three COVID-19 Vaccination Centres that administer the Sinopharm CNBG inactivated vaccine opened on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
The free and optional national vaccination campaign of the UAE, ongoing in both public and private health facilities, to contain the global spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), was intensified and given a wider reach. Three centres that can accommodate 9,000 people a day were inaugurated by the country’s largest healthcare network, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) had cautioned the public that anyone caught posting false and unverified claims or news about COVID-19 vaccines shall be held legally accountable.
These COVID-19 Vaccination Centres located at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal and Al Ain Convention Centre (6,000 persons, open from 8am to 8pm) and at the Dubai Parks & Resorts Field Hospital (3,000 persons, open from 8am to 4pm) were designated to administer the government-approved and registered inactivated vaccine by the drug firm Sinopharm of the state-owned China National Biotech Group (CNBG).
Specifically, this inactivated vaccine (bacteria and virus killed with a chemical treatment), was the one researched on and developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products (BIBP), one of two laboratories of the Sinopharm CNBG; the other being the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, also a COVID-19 inactivated vaccine manufacturer.
This two-dose BIBP inactivated COVID-19 vaccine with a gap of four weeks from the first jab, will also be distributed within select Seha facilities including 35 Ambulatory Health Services in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, six hospitals in the Al Dhafrah region, Tawam Hospital, 19 Majalis Abu Dhabi in the capital, Al Ain and Al Dhafrah, and at the Seha National Screening Centres in Mina Rashid and Al Khawaneej, Dubai. Total capacity for all these is 150,000 a day.
It is the same vaccine which has been made available for free in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates since the start of the campaign.
To backtrack, it was mid-July 2020 when the UAE homegrown Abu Dhabi-based G42, a leading artificial intelligence and cloud computing company, and Sinopharm CNBG, launched the landmark Phase III clinical trial of the inactivated vaccines. Among the first volunteers were Department of Health-Abu Dhabi (DoH) chairman Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Hameed and undersecretary Dr. Jamal Al Kaabi. It was on June 24, 2020 when officials of the two entities signed the Memorandum of Agreement in Abu Dhabi and Beijing via videoconferencing with government dignitaries in attendance.
From an initial 15,000 health and fit consenting trial participants from the capital, the initiative, dubbed as “#4Humanity,” was stretched to cover Sharjah wherein volunteers from the other Northern Emirates also took part. A total of 31,000 representing 125 nationalities across the country participated. MoHaP and DoH oversaw the Abu Dhabi chapter handled by Seha. MoHaP monitored the Phase III clinical trial in Sharjah.
On Dec. 9, 2020 and on its website, MoHaP announced the approval and registration of the BIBP-Sinopharm CNBG inactivated COVID-19 vaccine: “MoHaP in collaboration with Department of Health-Abu Dhabi have reviewed Sinopharm CNBG’s interim analysis of the Phase III trials, which shows Beijing Institute of Biological Product’s inactivated vaccine to have 86 per cent efficacy against COVID-19 infection. The analysis also shows the vaccine to have 99 per cent seroconversion rate of neutralising antibody and 100 per cent effectiveness in preventing moderate and severe cases of the disease. Furthermore, the analysis shows no serious safety concerns.”
The new vaccination centres in Abu Dhabi are each divided into two zones of 24 vaccination stations for the two doses. Those in Dubai have 50 stations, also a drive-through for men taking their second dose.
Registration and vital check-ups for blood pressure, height, weight, and temperature are a must for the vaccine takers as women shall also undergo pregnancy test. A consent form has to be signed before the initial vaccination after which each taker shall be monitored for 15 minutes before they exit and get the clearance for the second dose to be injected after four weeks. The centre in Dubai admits walk-ins.
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