DUBAI - Emirates said on Monday that over 85% of its pilots and cabin crew had been administered both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

The global take-up of coronavirus vaccines is seen as key to the reopening of borders and lifting social restrictions that have hit travel demand over the past year.

Over 35,000 Emirates employees have taken a vaccine shot, the company said in a statement. Emirates has around 80,000 staff across the group, which includes airport operator dnata.

The Dubai carrier has provided employees with free vaccines since January, and more recently told staff to get vaccinated or pay for regular tests to prove they are not infected.

Emirates offers employees the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and another shot developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Product, a unit of Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG).

Those and the AstraZeneca vaccine are also available to the general public in the United Arab Emirates for free.

Some people in the UAE failed to develop antibodies after a second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine and were given a third dose, the health ministry said this month. It said the number was “minimal” compared to the number of vaccines administered.

(Writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Bernadette Baum) ((;))