"We are delighted to announce that the production of the Hayat-Vax vaccine has started in the UAE, signalling the beginning of a historic phase of vaccine production in the country," Dr. Al Hosani said, noting that it is a key strategic step in strengthening the health sector’s infrastructure and advancing local biotechnology capacities.
Hayat-Vax [Hayat means life in Arabic], is the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in the region that will be manufactured by a joint venture between Sinopharm CNBG, and G42, the leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi.
Vaccine distribution has also begun locally, and that the UAE is expected to become a leading regional hub in this area, she added, affirming that there are ongoing procedures for the vaccine to be approved in other countries and become globally accredited.
Dr. Al Hosani affirmed that health authorities in the country are continuing their efforts to reinforce community immunity against the COVID-19, by vaccinating the largest possible number of people eligible to take the vaccine (those over 16 years).
She highlighted the fact that different types of vaccines are available in all the emirates. The approved vaccines in the UAE are Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V.
''Both citizens and residents can take any of these vaccines in the approved vaccination centres across the country,'' she said.
She stressed the importance of the community and its commitment to the instructions from the relevant authorities currently, noting that the UAE has taken all necessary procedures to ensure the health and safety of the community, by making the vaccines available to everyone.
Dr. Al Hosani added that the National Vaccination Campaign in the UAE continues to achieve its goals, with over 72.03 percent of the eligible criteria of the population (people over 16 years), and 79.03 percent of those over 60 years having been vaccinated.
She said that the UAE has provided over 11 million doses of the vaccine, at a rate of 113.10 doses for every 100 persons, while the number of COVID-19 tests carried out in the country exceeded 46 million. ''This makes the UAE one of the world's most efficient examples in managing and curing the spread of the virus.'' Dr. Al Hosani stressed that the country’s health authorities are closely monitoring the efficiency of vaccines, by observing the developments of clinical trials and their effectiveness in the community and tracking positive cases registered in the country.
Last week, the Sinopharm vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) after reviewing studies on its safety and efficiency, and the UAE provided data that supported this decision, she noted.
"On this occasion, we would like to thank the field employees and volunteers of clinical trials for their distinguished efforts to reach the final approval," she added.
She then pointed out that the UAE was among the first countries to use the vaccine after its local assessment, and the vaccine has been proven efficient and safe and offers numerous other advantages, including easy transportation and storage.
Dr. Al Hosani further added that the vaccine is produced in the conventional way and utilises an inactive virus like most vaccines for other diseases, offering greater safety and protection from serious complications.
On the possibility of taking another type of vaccine after taking the second dose, she stated, "We affirm that there are no studies indicating that it is safe to take various vaccines, and this matter requires further studies. For the time being, we urge people who have taken two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to not take any other type of the vaccine for their own safety." Dr. Saif Al Dhaheri, Official Spokesperson of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA), stressed that the UAE is continuing its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its national strategic plans have accomplished numerous achievements.
Returning to normalcy is the outcome of accurate planning, community awareness and the tremendous efforts of relevant authorities, under the monitoring of the country’s leadership, he added while announcing that Eid al-Fitr prayers can only perform for 15 minutes and must follow relevant precautionary measures, such as wearing facemasks and maintaining physical distancing.
People infected with COVID-19 who are being under treatment, those exposed to infected people, and people with chronic diseases are prohibited from going to Eid prayers, he further added, stressing that gatherings and shaking hands are also prohibited.
Prayers will take place in approved mosques and musallas around the country and services facilities will be closed, he noted, affirming that elderly people over the age of 60 and children under the age of 12 should not go to mosques for their own safety.
He noted that relevant authorities will supervise the process of entry and exit from mosques to avoid overcrowding and organise prayers, adding that mosques will open 15 minutes before prayers and will be closed immediately after prayers.
Dr. Al Dhaheri stressed the importance of adherence to precautionary measures during Eid al-Fitr, including avoiding visits and family gatherings, wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing with the elderly and those with chronic diseases.
He urged the public to exchange Eid greetings with friends and families via virtual platforms and to refrain from exchanging gifts and food between neighbours, and not give children Eid presents and cash bonuses.
© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2021.