New medication to reduce severe infections and deaths from Covid-19 in non-vaccinated people will soon be approved for use in UAE hospitals.
The UAE is one of the first countries to receive the innovative medicine that is specifically for use in immunocompromised patients, some of whom can not take a Covid-19 vaccine, or when vaccinated do not develop as many antibodies as healthy people.
Chronic disease and autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can also leave people at greater risk of viral infection.
Those patients will now be prioritised for the drug, once it is approved, if they are struck down by Covid-19.
“When approved, this medication will help immunocompromised patients who could not receive the vaccine due to medical reasons and limiting autoimmune disorders,” said Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, undersecretary of the Department of Health Abu Dhabi.
“The UAE continues to exhibit unprecedented leadership, with Abu Dhabi at its core, when it comes to a human-centred Covid-19 response.
“The UAE will continue to act as a catalyst for change by leveraging collaborations, both regionally and internationally.”
Dr Alkaabi said the public-private partnership behind AZD7442 was a major factor in bringing the world’s first long-acting antibody to the UAE.
An effective medicine
The health authority worked alongside Rafed, the UAE’s primary group purchasing organisation for essential medical equipment, to buy supplies of the drug to help the most vulnerable during the pandemic.
Phase 3 trials revealed data that demonstrated a benefit to patients in both prophylaxis and treatment of Covid-19.
A supply chain process has been established with Rafed to buy, store and distribute the AstraZeneca medication through the Rafed Distribution Centre, the region’s largest facility specialising in cold-storage.
The signing of the agreement follows a declaration made by the DoH and AstraZeneca to collaborate in areas of innovation, clinical research, real world evidence generation, digital health and the global positioning of Abu Dhabi as a life-science hub.
“The UAE is demonstrating once again its commitment to safeguarding the health of its citizens and residents by working with leading pharmaceutical manufacturers around the world,” said Rafed chief executive Rashed Al Qubaisi.
“AZD7442 brings great hope to patients with various immune disorders who are not able to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Through our strategic logistics partner network, Rafed is establishing an infrastructure to ensure a streamlined distribution across the UAE, and potentially the Middle East and Africa.”
A successful trial
Results of drug trials were announced by AstraZeneca in August.
It showed AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing Covid symptoms by 77 per cent, compared with a placebo.
Randomised trials in 5,197 people found no severe cases of Covid or related deaths in those who took the drug.
In the trial’s placebo arm, there were three cases of severe Covid-19, which included two deaths.
More than 75 per cent of trial participants had co-morbidities, placing them at greater risk of worse symptoms, and included conditions reported to cause a reduced immune response to vaccination.
Sameh El Fangary, GCC and Pakistan cluster president for AstraZeneca, said the collaboration was a landmark moment to help unvaccinated people during the pandemic.
“This demonstrates our commitment to bringing innovative medicines to the UAE and the rest of the GCC, to provide patients with better health outcomes now and in the future,” he said.