Dubai launches free vaccines while UAE approves Pfizer Shot

Health workers administer Covid-19 vaccines at the Bronx Retirement Home

Photographer: Eric Lee / Bloomberg

The United Arab Emirates has approved the coronavirus fire developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE and Dubai have unveiled plans to start a free vaccination campaign starting Wednesday.

The emergency registration in the UAE was in response to a request from Pfizer, the state-run WAM reported and comes two weeks after the country approved a vaccine developed by Pfizer. Sinopharm China National Biotec Group unit.

The image of Sinopharm has already been made available to residents free of charge, after studies in the UAE, of which Dubai is a part, showed that protected 86% of people against Covid-19. Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine is 95% effective in preventing the disease.

“Extensive vaccination campaign against Covid-19 begins in Dubai on Wednesday”, the city’s press office said. “Vaccination will use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and it is free.”

According to the Dubai Health Authority’s helpline, the first phase of vaccinations will target elderly citizens and residents over the age of 60. Vaccinations will also be provided to people with chronic diseases aged 18 or over and front-line workers.

Pfizer’s image is based on RNA messenger – a new technology that essentially transforms body cells into small vaccine-making machines, instructing cells to make copies of the spike coronavirus protein, which stimulates the production of protective antibodies.

While mRNA vaccines have been shown to be more effective, they present distribution challenges for some nations because they require deep-freezing facilities and trucks. The Sinopharm vaccine can be transported and stored at normal refrigerated temperatures.

Dubai, the Middle East’s business hub, blocked the city about a month earlier this year to stop the virus from spreading. Its flagship airline Emirates has made passenger flights on the ground and the Expo 2020 exhibition scheduled to start in October has been postponed by a year. The flights have resumed operations since then.

More than 195,000 people in the UAE have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the outbreak. The Gulf nation has reported more than a thousand cases a day in the past two months, falling to 164 in August.

The country has a fatality rate of 0.3%, among the lowest globally, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

(Reformed stories and updates throughout.)