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UAE to produce China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine

Gulf nation announces venture, doesn’t specify when commercial production will begin

A staff member inspects syringes of COVID-19 inactivated vaccine products at a packaging plant of the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., Ltd, a unit of state-owned Sinopharm in Beijing, December 25, 2020. (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)
A staff member inspects syringes of COVID-19 inactivated vaccine products at a packaging plant of the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., Ltd, a unit of state-owned Sinopharm in Beijing, December 25, 2020. (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)

The United Arab Emirates and China on Sunday announced a venture to produce the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine in the Gulf nation, state media reported.

The UAE’s Group 42 and China’s CNBG “have launched a joint project… to initiate the first Covid-19 vaccine production line in the UAE,” said official Emirati news agency Wam.

It did not specify when commercial production will begin.

The UAE’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, said the project adds “value to the international efforts being made in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, which has been taking a toll on everyday lives across the world.”

The UAE, made up of seven emirates including the capital Abu Dhabi and freewheeling Dubai, began mass inoculations in December after approving vaccines made by Chinese firm Sinopharm and US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of Chinese-made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, in Belgrade Fair turned into a vaccination centre, on January 25, 2021. (Andrej ISAKOVIC/AFP)

Since then, the UAE — which has a population of nearly 10 million people — has also approved Astrazeneca, with one of the best vaccination rates per capita in the world, second to Israel.

The UAE has so far recorded more than 388,000 cases and 1,481 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

Two vaccines have undergone third-phase trials in the UAE: Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik-V, named after the Soviet-era satellite.

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