UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has approved the emergency use of the Sinopharm vaccine for 3 to 17 age group.

The approval for the vaccine comes as part of the UAE’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 virus, and an affirmation of its proactive approach to ensure the health and safety of community members.

It cited the health ministry as saying the decision comes after clinical trials and extensive evaluations, without providing any details. Authorities said in June the trial would monitor the immune response of 900 children.

The Gulf Arab state, which has among the world’s highest immunization rates, was already providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12-15.

The health ministry said on Sunday that 78.95% of the UAE population of roughly 9 million had received one vaccine dose while 70.57% had been fully vaccinated.

The UAE, the region’s tourism and trade hub, registered 1,519 new coronavirus infections on Sunday to take its total to 682,377 cases and 1,951 deaths. It does not provide a breakdown for each of its seven emirates.

It led Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine produced by China’s state-owned drug maker Sinopharm and has started manufacturing it under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42.

In July, China also approved Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use for young people ages 3 to 17, after early and midst age clinical trials showed it is safe and can elicit strong immune responses in the age group, the company said in a recent statement.

It was the second domestic Covid-19 vaccine made available for children and teenagers in China. In June, Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine was authorized for emergency use for young people.

Sinopharm is the most widely used vaccine in the UAE, with its early availability contributing to the UAE’s rapid vaccination of much of the population. As of today, about 70 per cent of the total population has been fully vaccinated.

Sinopharm and Pfizer are available for vaccination and booster shots across the country. Last month, Moderna was also approved for use by UAE authorities.

Vaccinating children and teens is essential to building an immunity barrier against the virus. Young people’s immune systems are still developing, so researchers are careful when involving them in clinical trials.

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