Hayat-Vax: UAE drug firm already making Sinopharm vaccine under new name

Julphar can produce 2 million doses per month, with a dedicated vaccine plant at Abu Dhabi's Kizad in the works to boost that figure

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An Emirati drug maker is already producing the Sinopharm vaccine and could soon ramp up production to hit 2 million doses per month.

The disclosure was made on Monday after the UAE and China sealed a major vaccine deal on Sunday night.

In a news release, Ras Al Khaimah drug maker Julphar and Abu Dhabi's Group 42 said a dedicated facility would soon be built in the capital's Kizad freezone.

Doses are already rolling off a production line at Julphar's main plant in RAK.

The UAE vaccine will be known as Hayat-Vax - Hayat means 'life' in Arabic.

"The new vaccine plant in Kizad will become operational this year and over its phased development will have a production capacity of 200 million doses per annum across three filling lines and five automated packaging lines," the release from G42 read.

"The joint venture is already producing Hayat-Vax with its partner, Julphar in UAE with an initial capacity of 2 million doses per month."

On Monday, Julphar formally updated Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) with details of the deal. It said commercial production would progress from April.

Hayat-Vax is the same Sinopharm CNBG’s BiBP inactivated vaccine that was registered by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on December 9, 2020.

It is common practice to rename a vaccine to denote its origin.

The Serum Institute of India, the world's biggest vaccine maker, designates the vaccine is makes for Oxford-AstraZeneca as 'Covishield'.

The UAE to become vaccine hub

The UAE to become vaccine hub

Speaking on Sunday night, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said: “Life sciences and vaccine manufacturing in our country is UAE’s contribution towards global efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected the whole world."

As The National first reported in January, the UAE struck a deal with Sinopharm to manufacture its vaccine, at a time of worldwide delays and shortages.

Speaking at the time, Ashish Koshy, chief executive of G42 Healthcare, said: “The goal is to be self-sufficient and to ensure that manufacturing can be done from A to Z locally."

The first glimpse of the UAE-made vaccine was made public. Courtesy: G42 Healthcare
The first glimpse of the UAE-made vaccine was made public. Courtesy: G42 Healthcare

Peng Xiao, chief executive of G42, said on Monday: “The launch of the vaccine manufacturing capabilities in the UAE is a momentous step in the fight against Covid-19. This initiative in the UAE is a strategic advancement to future proof the population health of our nations."

Sinopharm was fully approved in the UAE in December, after local late-stage trials showed it was 86 per cent effective in preventing infections. Sinopharm later revised this to 79 per cent, following trials in multiple countries.

The UAE has one of the world’s fastest inoculation drives., with at least 52 per cent of the population now covered. The overall tally equates to 80.48 doses per 100 people – a rate surpassed across the world only by Israel.

While the government has approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V, most UAE residents have received the Chinese-made shots.

Sinopharm can be transported and stored at normal refrigerated temperatures, making it a prime candidate for vaccination drives in the developing world.

Founded in 1980, Julphar employs about 5,000 people and is a major global manufacturer of insulin, among other drugs.

Its 16 facilities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia together make about one million boxes of medicine per day.

Inside China's Sinopharm factory