UAE approves Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for children between 3 and 17

Approval follows trial involving 900 young people in Abu Dhabi

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The UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention has approved the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for children between 3 and 17.

The approval follows a trial involving 900 children in Abu Dhabi.

"The decision comes after clinical trials and extensive evaluations and is based on the emergency-use authorisation and local evaluations," the ministry said.

On Sunday, officials thanked the children who were part of the study to monitor effectiveness and side effects, describing them as heroes.

Department of Health Abu Dhabi said the study tracked the vaccine’s effectiveness in reducing the infection rate and severity of symptoms among target groups.

The results will be released later.

Among the young people who participated were members of Abu Dhabi's ruling family.

The UAE would be among the first countries to vaccinate children under the age of 12.

On Monday, Abu Dhabi health officials said the vaccine was now available for those aged 3 to 17 in multiple locations across the emirate.

On June 3, China approved emergency use of Sinovac for those between three and 17. Preliminary results from Phase I and II clinical trials showed the vaccine could trigger immune response in three to 17 year-old participants, and most adverse reactions were mild.

'Hero' child volunteers thanked

"I would like to thank everyone who took the initiative to register and participate in this study to support the country’s efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic," said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, principal investigator for Phase 3 Sinopharm trials in the UAE and chief medical officer at the capital's Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, on Sunday.

"This reflects the public’s confidence and trust in the UAE’s long-term recovery plan and in the competence of the healthcare sector of the country."

Sinopharm is the most widely used vaccine in the UAE, with its early availability contributing to the UAE's rapid vaccination of much of the population. As of today, about 70 per cent of the total population has been fully vaccinated.

The Sinopharm and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are available for the first two as well as booster doses across the country. Last month, Moderna was also approved for use by UAE authorities.

Back to school rules

Under current rules, the decision to approve for 3 to 17-year-olds does not yet have implications for attending school.

In Abu Dhabi, only vaccinated people over the age of 16 are allowed to enter public and private schools, nurseries and universities in Abu Dhabi from August 20.

The decision does not apply to those with a vaccination exemption registered on Al Hosn app, nor to children aged 15 and under.

This means that by the start of the new school term, all school staff and children aged 16 and over must have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

In Dubai, the authorities do not require pupils of any age to be vaccinated, but they may need to be tested if they have travelled abroad recently.

Updated: August 02, 2021, 4:18 PM