Dubai will start inoculating people with the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech for free from Wednesday, the emirate’s government said, joining Saudi Arabia which last week became the first Arab country to begin using this vaccine.
The move comes after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain earlier this month rolled out a vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) to the general public.
The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention registered the Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for emergency use on the request of Pfizer, the state news agency WAM reported, citing the ministry.
The UAE was the first country outside China to roll out the Chinese vaccine, saying earlier this month it had 86% efficacy, citing an interim analysis of late-stage clinical trials.
Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management said in a statement on Twitter late on Tuesday an “extensive vaccination campaign” against COVID-19 would kick off on Wednesday using Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.
A message on Dubai Health Authority’s hotline said the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine would be for citizens and Dubai residents 60 years and above, as well as for individuals with chronic illness who were above the age of 18.
Dubai, the business and financial hub of the UAE, has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, which hurt its key tourism, real estate and trade sectors.
S&P Global warned earlier this year that Dubai’s economy was set to shrink 11% this year, almost four times the drop in GDP experienced during the global financial crisis in 2009.
Qatar has also granted emergency use authorisation for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, while fellow Gulf Arab state Oman will receive its first shipment of the same vaccine on Wednesday.
Qatar started the free vaccination drive on Wednesday, Qatari media reported.
Kuwait received 150,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday and expects to receive about 450,000 doses of it in the first quarter, Ghada Ibrahim, head of public relations at the ministry health, said in a video posted on Twitter.
UAE has recorded 195,878 coronavirus cases and 642 deaths so far from the virus.