DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates said Tuesday it has begun administering the new Chinese-made Sinopham vaccine for the coronavirus to front-line health workers.
The Ministry of Health said doctors and nurses at the al-Qassimi Hospital for Women and Children, in the emirate of Sharjah, are the first to be vaccinated, along with a number of top ministry officials.
The UAE announced last week it would begin inoculating health workers with the vaccine, which is in the midst of Phase 3 testing trials that began in the country in July. Health Minister Abdulrahman al-Owais was injected with the vaccine on Saturday.
The ministry statement maintained the vaccine is perfectly safe and those participating in the trials are producing antibodies and showing few side effects.
“Those who got vaccinated will be under careful and continuous medical supervision along with necessary examinations to spot any adverse effects that may arise,” the statement said.
Hundreds of thousands of health-care workers, military and state workers have already received the vaccine in China, even though the large-scale Phase 3 trials have not been completed. Doses of the vaccine have also been given to Jordan, Bahrain and Egypt.
Decisions by China and Russia to bypass the usual steps to develop vaccines against the coronavirus have caused some consternation among scientists around the world who fear some side effects may not manifest in the smaller earlier testing trials.
The UAE, like many countries, has seen the virus surge in September, with the number of daily new cases climbing to the high hundreds from a low of fewer than 200 a day in August. Authorities have blamed a flouting of social distancing rules, including large family weddings.