ABU DHABI, 11 June — United Arab Emirates will launch an “immune bridge study” of Chinese-based COVID-19 vaccine Sinopharm for children aged 3 to 17, as announced by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP).
The Department of Health in Abu Dhabi (DOH) assured that it will implement all applicable medical protocols “in accordance with the highest international standards and practices”.
This makes the UAE the first country in the MENA region to conduct a study of COVID vaccine effectiveness for children in this age group.
According to DOH, the study’s preliminary result will be announced once available and will support the planning process for the safe return to schools in the country.
The study will include 900 children from different nationalities, and study their immune response to the vaccine, and each child will participate with the full consent of their parents.
“Their safety is the most important concern of the study, and parents and children will be provided with details and support at every step of the process,” DOH said.
It added that this study will help prepare the authorities to vaccinate children in the near future.
Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, Chairwoman of the National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee, who is leading the study, told Khaleej Times that: “Children are the cornerstone of any society and the future of any nation. As more and more people are vaccinated in the UAE, we want to make sure that our children are able to receive the vaccine safely.
“This is why when we designed the Sinopharm immune bridge study, we focused on ensuring all care is given to our young volunteers throughout the journey. We want both children and parents to understand every step of the process and also to know that we will be with them, supporting them, answering every question they may have, at any time.”
Over the past few months, many COVID vaccine manufacturing countries started conducting clinical trials for children, including China, the United States, United Kingdom, and India.
These clinical trials come after previous successful trials done by the UAE for many vaccines, including the Chinese COVID vaccine Sinopharm, and the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.
The previous trials in the UAE confirmed the effectiveness of the vaccines in reducing the rates of infection and spread, and alleviating symptoms, which led later to the official registration and licensing of these vaccines.
The UAE now offers four different COVID-19 vaccines; Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik V, and Oxford-AstraZeneca. All vaccines are administered for free to all residents.
As of May 2021, the UAE is first in the world when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination rates, with 137 doses per 100 people.
Source: Khaleej Times/Gulf News/Agencies