On January 24, Egypt started its large-scale immunization program with the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, becoming one of the first countries in Africa to vaccinate its citizens. Egypt received the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine last December through the United Arab Emirates (UAE). On January 20, Seychelles, an African island nation with a population of less than 100,000, became the first to get vaccinated with the country receiving 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from the UAE late last year.
Given the ravaging pandemic, the supply of vaccines is still short of demand. The UAE has long cooperated with China and now the country's COVID-19 vaccination rollout is among the top three worldwide. Some analysts said the UAE will become the center of COVID-19 vaccinations in the Middle East this year.
Currently, the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the UAE is at 26 percent, ranking second in the world behind Israel. More than 25.6 million people have been inoculated and most of them are vaccinated with Chinese vaccines. The UAE plans to vaccinate half of its population by the end of March, according to a CNBC report.
Since September 2020, the UAE started vaccinating its front-line medical workers and government officials with the Sinopharm vaccine, and since late last year, the country has begun vaccinating its entire population.
Now all UAE government employees are required to undergo vaccination and ordinary citizens are urged to be inoculated as soon as possible.
Experts noted that to address the pandemic and vaccines, relevant government organs in the UAE have put in tremendous effort. This time, China's commitment to make vaccines public goods for the global fight against the epidemic, the political trust between the two countries and the strong scientific research and production capacity of Chinese pharmaceutical companies are key pillars of the UAE's ability to push forward mass vaccinations.
While the West kept questioning the safety of the Chinese vaccine, the UAE maintained close contact with Chinese vaccine manufacturers. In July 2020, Sinopharm began Phase III clinical trials to assess its COVID-19 vaccine in Abu Dhabi. In September 2020, the UAE approved Sinopharm's vaccine candidate for emergency use. In December 2020, the UAE approved the vaccine for general use.
It's reported that experts from Sinopharm and the UAE health department regularly communicate and share information with each other, collecting and analyzing problems, providing feedback during the experiment and inoculation process on a regular basis so that Sinopharm's vaccine will be further compliant, improved and recognized by more countries.
According to insiders, a recent rise in the number of buyers from Middle Eastern and African countries purchasing COVID-19 vaccines through the UAE has slowed the pace of vaccination there to avoid supply shortages. The UAE also recently decided to establish a vaccine production facility in Abu Dhabi in cooperation with Sinopharm to meet the growing global demand for vaccines.