With the United Arab Emirates now among the countries with the world’s highest COVID-19 vaccination rates and an inoculation program that has brightened the prospects of the upcoming Dubai Expo, experts have credited the country’s success to its early health collaboration with China.
Last December the UAE became the first country to deliver Sinopharm COVID-19 shots to the general public. The same month Bahrain followed suit. By March the UAE said that it would start making those vaccines locally under a joint venture between the Chinese pharmaceutical company and an Abu Dhabi company.
At least 82 percent of the UAE’s nearly 10 million people had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Thursday, more than 19 million doses having been administered, the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority said.
Ben Hanson, consultant physician and chief executive officer of the Dubai consultancy Rivers International Management Services, said the collaboration of China and the UAE in COVID-19 vaccine development had “set the standard internationally” over the past year.
Rasha Al Joundy, a senior researcher at Dubai Public Policy Research Centre, said the pandemic is receding steadily in the UAE over the past few months and the easing of some restrictions related to mask-wearing in public and private places are the signs of “a reliable pandemic policy”.
Work with China to produce COVID-19 vaccines in the UAE and making them available to residents in the needed amounts as early as possible was crucial to this success story, Al Joundy said.
Dubai, she said, was “transformed into a global vaccine logistics hub”, strengthening its capabilities to fight the pandemic, including a multilateral pledge by the UAE to distribute 25 million doses from the COVAX vaccine distribution initiative.
“This would not be possible without cooperation with China, but it certainly needed collaboration with international organizations, which the UAE established as well,” she said.
Shaojin Chai, an assistant professor in the department of international relations at the University of Sharjah, said there is growing awareness that the UAE government’s adoption and provision of the Sinopharm vaccine to all segments of the population has played an important role in curbing the pandemic and in paving the way for the upcoming world fair in Dubai.
Expo 2020 Dubai, which is expected to host exhibitors from almost 200 countries, opens on Friday after being delayed by a year due to the pandemic.
The expo was originally planned to be held from Oct 20 last year to April 10 but is now due to run over six months until the end of March.
Michael Felfernig, medical director at Response Plus Medical Services of Abu Dhabi, said that as a result of “clever crisis management” by the UAE, the government was able to provide intensive care unit beds during the COVID-19 infections’ peak so that standard surgery and other treatments could still take place, in contrast to other countries in which other health services had been affected.
Chai of the University of Sharjah said the collaboration between the UAE and China had produced a good result, enabling the framework’s expansion to help other countries such as Egypt.