Dubai is planning to inoculate 70% of its population with the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech by the end of 2021, in a campaign free of charge for citizens and residents, a health official said.
The financial hub of the United Arab Emirates began the first phase of the vaccination campaign last week, targeting “priority groups,” including those 60 and older, people with chronic medical conditions, those with disabilities and frontline workers.
In contrast with the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi, which rolled out a vaccine made by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) to the general public, Dubai followed Saudi Arabia, which earlier this month became the first Arab country to use the Pfizer vaccine.
“We are targeting to vaccinate approximately 70% of the population of Dubai by the end of 2021. We want to reach the herd immunity that is required,” Farida Al-KHajja, chairwoman of Dubai’s steering committee for COVID-19 vaccinations, told Reuters.
KHajja said a second phase would kick off in April and would be open to all citizens and residents.
The UAE’s health ministry has registered the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for emergency use, but none of the other emirates has so far announced plans to roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for which data has shown 95% efficacy.
The UAE was the first country outside China to roll out the Sinopharm vaccine to the public and said earlier this month it had 86% efficacy, citing a review of an interim analysis of late-stage clinical trials.
Its phase III clinical trials in the UAE included 31,000 volunteers from 125 nationalities.
The Sinopharm vaccine is now available to anyone living in the UAE who wishes to receive it, including at a field hospital in Dubai set up by the federal government.