UAE awaits delivery of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, officials say


Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is yet to be shipped to the UAE, health authorities have said.

UAE authorities on January 21 approved the vaccine for emergency use after the Emirates hosted a small-scale Phase 3 trial of the vaccine – involving almost 1,000 volunteers – produced by Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

“The vaccine is not yet available in the UAE for the general public. Although this vaccine has been approved by DoH for emergency use, the vaccine has not been shipped to UAE yet,” officials at the Department of Health told The National.

Clinical trial data shows a 91.4 per cent efficacy for the Sputnik V vaccine on day 28 after the first dose; and more than 95 per cent 42 days after the first dose.

Vaccine trails are under way and volunteers were asked to sign up until January 18.

So far, 1,000 volunteers in Abu Dhabi enrolled for the trials and 995 have received both doses. They are currently being monitored.

It is the second trial of its kind in the UAE, after more than 30,000 people took part in a study for the Sinopharm vaccine.

The Sputnik vaccine requires two doses with a 20-day gap between the first and the second injection.

“Volunteers are being followed up for their safety for a period of six months, starting from the date of their first vaccine dose,” officials at the DoH said.

A medic holds up a vaccine vial at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National
A medic holds up a vaccine vial at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National

“The study will be completed by the end of July 2021 once all the 1,000 volunteers have done their safety follow-up visits.

“The interim analysis of the Sputnik vaccine is expected to take place in mid-March 2021, when the results of the safety visit on Day 42 for all enrolled volunteers are finalised.”

Russia aims to make a billion doses of the Sputnik vaccine next year and sell it for less than $20 per person on international markets.

It is expected to be available in more than 30 countries in North and South America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa by the end of February.

Named after the first Soviet space satellite launched in 1957, it works in a similar way as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Sputnik V is an adenoviral vector-based vaccine.

A vector is a virus that has been engineered – in this case a harmless, cold-causing adenovirus – to carry the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus gene to cells.

That provokes the production of the virus’s crown-like spikes, resembling a natural infection. This theoretically generates a robust immune response.

But unlike other vaccines, each of the shots uses a different strain of the virus, to ensure that if immunity develops to the first, the second booster is still effective.

China’s Sinopharm vaccine was approved for use for all members of the public in the UAE on December 9.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a collaboration between US pharmaceuticals company Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNTech, was registered in Dubai two weeks later as part of a phased campaign initially focused on vulnerable groups and key workers.

On February 2, the UAE announced it would offer the AstraZeneca vaccines under the national vaccination programme.

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine was approved last month for emergency use.

The country aims to inoculate 50 per cent of its population by the end of March.

On February 7, the government said the vaccine will be limited, for a period of six weeks, to UAE citizens, the elderly, disabled and people with chronic illnesses.

More than 5.7 millions doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered so far.

UAE vaccination programme – in pictures


Updated: February 25, 2021 07:29 AM