Shipments of vital jabs across region fuel optimism for return to normalcy
China's COVID-19 vaccines have come a long way in the Middle East. They were the first of the global offerings to secure authorization for emergency use there and one of them led a poll as the vaccine of choice in the region. To top that off, they have scored high on efficacy ratings.
An online survey by data analytics firm YouGov has indicated that over 80 percent of those vaccinated against the coronavirus in the United Arab Emirates had opted for a Chinese-developed vaccine from Sinopharm.
In the survey commissioned by G42 Healthcare, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42, 76 percent of the respondents said they believe the COVID-19 vaccines will bring life back to normal within a year.
The UAE approved the Sinopharm shots on Dec 9, after declaring an 86 percent efficacy rate for the jabs.
The YouGov-G42 survey, which started in January, was carried out to determine people's attitudes to COVID-19 vaccines. It found that safety and efficacy were the main factors that influenced their decisions.
A total of 1,011 people were polled in the UAE for the survey, with the participants expressing optimism that the vaccines will help turn the tide in the public health crisis.
The Abu Dhabi-based English daily The National reported on Tuesday that some people in the UAE who did not develop antibodies against COVID-19 could take a booster shot or a third dose of the Sinopharm vaccine, which is available for free across the country.
High efficacy proved
Chinese vaccines could find even more takers in the region in the coming months after Turkish researchers announced last week that a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech had an efficacy of 83.5 percent, based on phase III trials.
The results unveiled by Ankara's Hacettepe University came after trials involving 10,216 participants aged 18-59.
The UAE vaccine survey revealed that safety remained the top determinant for people considering vaccination, with 52 percent of respondents citing safety and efficacy as the key motivators. This was followed by perceptions of a lack of major side effects, at 50 percent, on a list of factors.
Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki, who received a batch of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines in Cairo last week, said China's medical assistance to the Pan-Arab body "will effectively enhance the anti-epidemic capabilities of the Arab world", the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Michael Stanat, vice-president of global operations at SIS International Research, a consulting firm headquartered in New York, said: "Chinese vaccines position China as a global healthcare leader and innovator alongside the likes of the US and Europe."
For Martin Lush, global vice-president at NSF International, a US-based public health and safety organization, said the global elimination of the virus will not happen and that we "must learn to live with it, just like we do (with) flu".
As of Monday, the UAE had administered 6,287,751 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with a distribution rate of 63.57 doses per 100 people.
The UAE's National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority noted on Feb 23 that authorities had noticed a gradual decrease in registered COVID-19 cases.
"We confirm the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines that were approved in the country," it said.