Abu Dhabi: There are currently four different COVID-19 vaccines that are approved and available free of charge to residents in the UAE, as part of the country’s efforts to protect residents and limit the spread of the infectious disease. Residents aged 12 years and older can receive the jabs to boost their immunity, with authorities easing procedures for vaccinated individuals.

Sinopharm vaccine

On December 9, 2020, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced that it had officially registered the ‘Beijing Institute of Biological Products’ inactivated vaccine’, known as ‘Sinopharm vaccine’ which was developed jointly with Sinopharm CNBG (China National Biotec Group). The vaccine previously underwent Phase III trials in the country, with more than 31,000 residents volunteering to test the efficacy of the vaccine.

The vaccine was found to be 100 per cent effective in preventing moderate and severe cases of the disease, and the UAE made the jabs available to residents aged 16 years and older. Two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine are administered about three weeks apart, including a booster dose six months later for the elderly and the immunocompromised.

At present, the Department of Health Abu Dhabi (DoH) has launched an immune bridge study to investigate the efficacy and safety of the Sinopharm vaccine for children aged three to 17 years. The study will include 900 children, and will be carried out with full parental consent.

Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine

On December 22, 2020, the MoHaP announced the emergency registration of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is now available for residents aged 12 years and more, and is therefore the only vaccine available to children younger than 16 years.

Two doses of the RNA-based vaccine are administered about three weeks apart, with a booster dose available upon request six months later. The vaccine needs to be kept in ultra-cold temperatures, and final tests revealed 94 per cent efficacy against COVID-19.

Sputnik V vaccine

On January 21, 2021, the MoHAP announced its approval of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Developed by the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, and the Russian, Ministry of Health, the adenoviral vector-vaccine earlier underwent Phase III trials in the UAE.

This vaccine two includes two doses delivered about three to four weeks apart.

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

Dubai received the first shipment of these vaccines in February 2021, and the shots were offered to residents aged 18 years or more. Like the Sputnik V vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine also uses an adenoviral vector.

Two doses are administered about four weeks apart.