FILE PHOTO: Government-organised visit to the production line of COVID-19 vaccine by Beijing Institute of Biological Products of Sinopharm’s CNBG
By Lisa Barrington
DUBAI (Reuters) -A new pharmaceutical plant in Abu Dhabi will start making a COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm later this year under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 (G42).
The plant, which is being built in the Khalifa Industrial Zone of Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), will eventually have a production capacity of 200 million doses a year with three filling lines and five automated packaging lines, a statement from the joint venture said on Monday.
The vaccine will be called Hayat-Vax when manufactured in the United Arab Emirates, but is the same BiBP inactivated vaccine that has been administered in the UAE since it was approved by authorities in December.
Production of Hayat-Vax has already begun in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah under a deal between G42 and Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries PSC. That production line has an initial capacity of 2 million doses per month.
The joint venture is an expansion of Chinese diplomacy in the Gulf region and helps the UAE’s quest to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon production.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday completed a two-day official visit to the UAE, saying Beijing wanted to work with the UAE on producing affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
G42, an artificial intelligence and cloud computing company, handled Phase III late-stage clinical trials of the Sinopharm vaccine in the UAE and the wider region.
(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Kim Coghill)