Coronavirus vaccine in the Gulf: What we know so far

Immunisation campaigns are under way in all countries across the Gulf

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All Gulf states have launched Covid-19 immunisation campaigns with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain ranking second and fourth globally on vaccine rollout per head of population.

Countries in the region have maintained strict measures to contain Covid-19, including mask-wearing and social distancing amid a surge in cases.

Here’s the latest on immunisation campaigns across the region.


The UAE has accelerated its vaccination campaign, with the country one of the fastest worldwide to inoculate its population.

More than 3.5 million vaccine doses have been administered so far – a rate of 36.04 doses per 100 people – placing the UAE below only Israel in a global league table of inoculation rates.

Authorities have also been expanding the range of vaccines to boost the campaign. Dubai on Tuesday authorised the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. A first shipment, which arrived from India on Tuesday, contained 200,000 doses and will be enough for 100,000 people. More orders are expected.

Three vaccines are now approved in Dubai with the other two being Pfizer-BioNTech and China's Sinopharm. The Sinopharm vaccine is also available across the UAE.

The United Nations children's agency Unicef signed a partnership deal with DP World last week for the Dubai-based logistics firm to help distribute Covid-19 vaccines.

DP World has a presence across emerging markets, including in Africa and Asia, and its flagship Jebel Ali port in Dubai is the Middle East's biggest transhipment hub.

The partnership will support Unicef's role in procuring and supplying two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines and immunisation supplies as part of Covax, a global Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan with the World Health Organisation.


Kuwait has authorised the emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to protect people from the virus.

The authorisation was issued after conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the vaccine's safety, efficacy and quality, assistant under-secretary for drug and food control Dr Abdullah Al Bader said.

Kuwait will receive the first batch of 200,000 doses within days, he said.

Saudi Arabia

This picture taken on December 17, 2020 shows the first Saudi citizen preparing to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine (Tozinameran) in the capital Riyadh, as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)

Saudi Arabia began inoculating people in the kingdom in mid-December with a Covid-19 vaccine, becoming the first Arab country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

The health authorities asked citizens and residents to register to receive the vaccine, which they said would be free.

Riyadh also said it was talking to vaccine producers to provide doses to low-income countries, such as Yemen and some countries in Africa that would not get enough vaccines through the Covax facility.


Bahrain last week received its first delivery of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII). The vaccine will be free to citizens and residents of the kingdom.

Bahrain is already providing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and one manufactured by Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.


A man receives his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the Omani capital Muscat on December 27, 2020. / AFP / MOHAMMED MAHJOUB

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured under licence by the Serum Institute of India arrived in Oman at the weekend, ready for the next phase of the sultanate's vaccination campaign.

Oman began its vaccination campaign using Pfizer-BioNTech inoculations on December 7 last year.


Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health granted emergency use authorisation for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech late in December.

The ministry said people aged 16 years and above would be eligible. Qatar has also signed an agreement with drug maker Moderna to buy its vaccine.