The United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Monday, gave an emergency use approval to Sinopharm's protein-based vaccine against COVID-19. However, the indigenous Chinese vaccine is only allowed to be used as a booster dose starting January 2022. According to Emirati Administration, the Sinopharm vaccine doses would be produced as well as distributed by UAE’s Group 42 and China National Biotech Group (CNBG), a unit of Sinopharm.
The approval came as the gulf state reported a slight decline in its daily COVID caseload, after recording a six month high. According to health officials, UAE reported 1,732 new COVID-19 cases, 608 recoveries and one COVID related fatality on Monday. This is down from 1,803 cases of COVID-19 infections, 618 recoveries and two deaths a day before. As of now, the mid-east tourist hub has approved 6 vaccines including those developed by Moderna, Oxford, Sinopharm amongst others.
As UAE gave the go-ahead to the booster doses, several have raised questions on its efficiency against new variants of the SARS-CoV-2. Meanwhile, a study published on Christmas said that a third booster shot of China’s widely used Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine has been found ineffective against the highly complex and mutated B.1.1.529 Omicron variant of concern. The China-made jab does not provide sufficient protection against Omicron, scientists at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong revealed, adding that the third shot of one of the world's most widely used COVID-19 vaccines mostly also donated by China to other countries does not produce enough levels of virus-neutralising antibodies to fight against Omicron. Notably, Sinovac’s CoronaVac and state-owned Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV vaccine are the two most-used vaccines in China as well as widely exported to other nations by Beijing.
The new study contradicts Chinese biotech company Sinovac’s claims that its third dose of COVID-19 vaccine offers 94% efficacy against the new COVID variant Omicron. The Chinese pharmaceutical company conducted research claiming that the third booster shot from their vaccine showed that it doubled the neutralising antibody positive rate against Omicron, the Chinese government-affiliated newspaper Global Times reported.