In a historic move in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Arab Emirates today announced the commencement of the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
The vaccine, called Hayat-Vax [Hayat means life in Arabic], is the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in the region that will be manufactured by a newly created joint venture between Sinopharm CNBG, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world that has supplied over 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine globally, and G42, the leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi.
The announcement was witnessed by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and His Excellency Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, during a high-profile ministerial event in Abu Dhabi, in the presence of dignitaries from the two nations.
The occasion also served to launch a purpose-built research and development hub for life sciences, biotechnology and vaccine production – the first-of-its-kind in the Arab world – that is being set up in KIZAD, the integrated trade, logistics and industrial hub in Abu Dhabi. Last year, G42 and Sinopharm CNBG successfully collaborated on conducting 4Humanity, the world’s first phase III clinical trial of inactivated vaccines across the Pan Arab region with over 43,000 volunteers participating from over 125 nationalities.
The new vaccine plant in KIZAD will become operational this year and over its phased development will have a production capacity of 200 million doses per annum across three filling lines and five automated packaging lines. The JV is already producing Hayat-Vax with its partner, Julphar in the UAE with an initial capacity of 2 million doses per month.
In his comments on the landmark move by the UAE to commence vaccine production, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said, “The advancement in Life Sciences and Vaccine Manufacturing in our country is UAE’s contribution towards global efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the whole world,” stressing that “the UAE, with the guidance of its wise leadership, believes in the importance of strengthening collective international action.”
Attending the ceremony through video conference, Mr. Liu Jingzhen, Chairman of Sinopharm said: “When COVID-19 began to spread rampantly last year, the UAE and its leading technology company G42 explored the possibility of hosting the clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine in the country. Sinopharm has undertaken the mission of fighting this pandemic and thanks to the close collaboration with the UAE, Sinopharm’s vaccine has been now administered to millions of people in the country, the region, and the world in a fundamental step towards defeating this virus. We are proud to partner with G42 in this new Joint Venture that will play a vital role in combatting COVID-19 globally, making an indelible contribution to the health of our communities.”
Elaborating on the Hayat-Vax vaccine and the new JV plans, Mr. Peng Xiao, CEO of G42, said: “The launch of the vaccine manufacturing capabilities in the UAE is a momentous step in the fight against COVID-19. We are grateful to the shared vision of the UAE and China, their true partnership and collaboration to make this a reality. This initiative in the UAE is a strategic advancement to future proof the population health of our nations. Our JV is also actively looking to bring our capabilities to new markets around the world.”
Hayat-Vax is the same Sinopharm CNBG’s BiBP inactivated vaccine that was officially registered by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) on 9th December 2020 and subsequently in China by the Chinese Center for Drug Evaluation (CDE) on 30th December 2020 following the updated Sinopharm interim results submitted in China showing 79.34% efficacy.
Twelve days ago, the UAE national vaccination program achieved the vaccination of over 52% of the country’s population. This first ever ‘Made in UAE’ Hayat-Vax COVID-19 vaccine will turbocharge the UAE’s leading vaccination program across 205 medical centres nationally.