DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday it would offer a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine from China's state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm at least six months after the initial two doses.
Gulf neighbour Bahrain also said it would offer a third dose of the vaccine, at least six months after the second shot, starting with more vulnerable groups.
The UAE offer is part of its "proactive strategy to provide maximum protection for society", the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) said, with priority given to those aged over 60 or suffering a chronic disease.
The World Health Organization, which last week approved the Sinopharm shot for emergency use, has said a large Phase III trial had shown that its two doses, administered at an interval of 21 days, had an efficacy of 79% against symptomatic infection, 14 or more days after the second dose.
The UAE, which led Phase III clinical trials of the Sinopharm vaccine, has started manufacturing it under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42.
The UAE, a regional business and tourism hub of some 9 million people, has vaccinated about 73% of its eligible population, NCEMA said. The UAE is providing four vaccines for free but does not provide a breakdown for each one.
The UAE on Tuesday reported 1,270 new coronavirus infections to take the total to 548,681 cases with 1,637 deaths.
(Writing by Ghaida Ghantous and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel) ((email@example.com;))