Abu Dhabi: The UAE will start producing the Chinese Sinopharma vaccine next month in a deal that deepens Beijing’s influence in the Arab Gulf region, which has long been a stronghold of US power.
Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries said on Sunday that it has signed a contract to start manufacturing the vaccine from April.
With this agreement, the UAE will become the first Gulf country to establish a facility to produce Coronavirus vaccines, which strengthens its efforts to become a supply hub for the Middle East and beyond.
The company, also known as Julphar, said it has signed the agreement with G42 pharmaceutical trade in Abu Dhabi. G42, which describes itself as an AI and cloud computing company, has helped launch Sinopharm vaccine trials in the country.
The state-backed Sinopharm vaccine was approved in the UAE last year after late local trials showed it is 86% effective in preventing infections – and since then the country has overseen one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, with most people receiving the Chinese vaccine. .
Sinopharm vaccine can be transported and stored at normal cold temperatures, making it a candidate for vaccination programs in the developing world.
The company’s annual production capacity of Covid vaccines is set to reach 3 billion doses, its Chairman Yu Qingming said this month, without giving a time frame.
While the UAE has approved vaccines from Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca Plc as well as Russia’s Sputnik V, its vaccination program is contingent on Sinopharm due to early availability and the ability to produce the shots locally – key to the UAE’s aspirations to become a supply hub.
In November, Abu Dhabi launched the Hope Alliance, a logistics consortium capable of distributing more than six billion doses of vaccine. The consortium includes the Emirate’s Department of Health, Etihad Shipping, Abu Dhabi Ports Group, Rafid and Sky Seal.
In neighboring Dubai, companies including Emirates Airlines, Dubai Ports World and Dubai Airports have formed an alliance to transport two billion doses of vaccines around the world this year, with a focus on emerging markets.