The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) has initiated a Sinopharm “immune bridge study” for children aged three to 17 years.
The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi will implement all applicable medical protocols “following 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.
The study’s preliminary results will be announced once available and will support the planning process for the safe return to schools.
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.
The study aims to monitor the immune response to the vaccine in 900 children of different nationalities. This will help prepare the authorities to vaccinate “children shortly”.
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.
Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, Chairwoman of the National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee, who is leading the study, said: “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 can 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.”
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 the 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.
Dr Ahmed Deemas Alsuwaidi, Associate Professor of Paediatrics and Infectious Diseases and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the United Arab Emirates University, said: “With vaccines now readily available to protect against Covid-19, we are much closer to ending the pandemic.
“Research so far has shown that Covid-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.”
This study comes after the successes achieved by the UAE in conducting clinical trials for several vaccines. 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. 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.