Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) has initiated a Sinopharm immune bridge study for children aged 3 to 17 years, as a significant next step in combating the pandemic and providing protection for all members of the community.
The Department of Health — Abu Dhabi (DoH) has approved the study to be conducted, under the supervision of MOHAP. The DoH will implement all applicable medical protocols in accordance with the highest international standards and practices.
The UAE is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to conduct a study of the vaccine’s effectiveness for this age group. Other vaccine manufacturing countries, such as China, the United States, United Kingdom and India, have also begun conducting clinical trials for this group over the past few months.
- All you need to know about COVID-19 home quarantine in Abu Dhabi
- COVID-19: Abu Dhabi issues new rules for eating out
The study aims to monitor the immune response to the vaccine in 900 children of different nationalities in preparation to vaccinate children in the near future. Each child will participate with the full consent of their parents, and be closely monitored, with their safety the most important concern of the study. Parents and children will be given details and support at every step of the process.
“Children are the cornerstone of any society and the future of any nation. As more and more people are vaccinated in the UAE, we want to make sure that our children are able to receive the vaccine safely. This is why when we designed the Sinopharm immune bridge study, we focused on ensuring all care is given to our young volunteers throughout the journey. We want both children and parents to understand every step of the process and also to know that we will be with them, supporting them, answering every question they may have, at any time,” said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chairwoman of the National COVID-19 Clinical Management Committee, who is leading the study.
The study comes as virus mutations globally have led to an increase in the number of positive cases, including among children, and the severity of their symptoms. This includes transmission of the virus by children, particularly to people at risk.
Vaccinating children will protect them and preserve the health of those around them, as well as accelerate herd immunity needed to curb the spread of the virus. This is in line with the UAE’s long-term recovery plan, which is based on vaccinating 100 per cent of the targeted groups by end of 2021.
“With vaccines now readily available to protect against COVID-19, we are much closer to ending the pandemic. Research so far has shown thatCOVID-19 vaccines are remarkably effective and safe. In addition, children have been safely receiving vaccines for multiple diseases and viruses for generations. The Sinopharm vaccine is similar in concept to all of these vaccines, and we look forward to seeing the results of this study and its effectiveness for children,” said Dr Ahmed Alsuwaidi, associate professor of Paediatrics and Infectious Diseases, and chair of the Department of Paediatrics, at the United Arab Emirates University.
From the onset of the pandemic, the UAE has rapidly responded to overcome the challenges, guided by the leadership’s vision to convert them into opportunities and its commitment to ensuring no one is left behind in the collective efforts to manage the impact of the pandemic.
This particular immune bridge study comes after the successes achieved by the UAE in conducting clinical trials for several vaccines, including Sinopharm and Sputnik V. The trials resulted in confirming the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing the rates of infection, and alleviating symptoms across multiple nationalities. This then led to the official registration and licensing of these vaccines, which have been used to inoculate citizens and residents in the country. The country now offers four different COVID-19 vaccines — Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik V and Oxford-AstraZeneca — free of charge to residents, with a number of them also available to children aged 12 years and older.
As of May 2021, the UAE is first in the world when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination rates, with 137 doses per 100 people.
The immune bridge study’s preliminary results will be announced once available, and will support the planning process for the safe return to schools.