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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

How Gulf nations are faring in global vaccination race

Different vaccines available across each Gulf country but how much of their populations have been immunised?

Covid-19 vaccination programmes are continuing apace across the Gulf, with distribution set to accelerate after new supplies arrived in recent days.

The UAE remains a leader within the GCC – and the world – with a vaccination programme that has already had millions of doses administered.

Other nations in the GCC have together made hundreds of thousands of injections and are introducing more vaccines as they look to speed up immunisations.

Which GCC countries are furthest ahead in their vaccination programmes?

Apart from the UAE, which has administered the second-largest number of doses compared to population size of any country in the world, Bahrain is furthest ahead within the GCC on a per capita basis.

The island nation has administered 174,075 doses, which equates to 10.61 for every 100 residents, the latest figures from the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data tracker shows.

The country has approved the Sinopharm, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

I’m optimistic that things are going to go all right, but so far it’s good to great

Prof John Oxford, University of London

Saudi Arabia is also advancing its vaccination programme rapidly, with 440,618 doses given, which translates to 1.29 for every 100 of the country’s residents.

Saudi Arabia was the first Arab country to begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and has more recently added the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna treatments.

Prof John Oxford, professor emeritus at the University of London and co-author of the Human Virology textbook, said it was imperative that vaccines were introduced quickly.

“From a public health perspective, the more people we get vaccinated, the more pressure you will have on the virus and it could be extinguished more quickly,” Prof Oxford said.

Where are the other GCC countries at?

Figures from January 27 show Oman had administered 37,045 vaccinations, which translates to 0.74 for every 100 people.

The first batches of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the country in late December, and 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot reached the country on Sunday.

While this vaccine was developed in the UK, Oman’s supplies came from the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker.

India is the biggest vaccine supplier globally, accounting for a reported 60 per cent of doses.

Also by late January, about 35,000 people or 0.875 per cent of the population in Kuwait, had been vaccinated, with the programme up to that time involving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

But on Monday, 200,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, also made by the Serum Institute of India, arrived.

Qatar has not released figures for its vaccinations, although a month ago the country lowered the age threshold for shots from 70 to 65, indicating good progress for the most vulnerable.

How does the UAE compare to other GCC countries?

The UAE remains one of the world leaders in terms of vaccination rates, with the country having administered more than 4.3 million doses, which translates to about 43.62 for every 100 people.

As well as the Sinopharm vaccine, production of which is due to start in the country this year, the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, a US-German collaboration, has also been introduced in the UAE, and Dubai has this week approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.

Prof Oxford said China, which has developed other leading Covid-19 vaccines including the Sinopharm treatment being administered in the UAE, would prove to be a key global supplier.

“Their production capacity is going to be huge,” he said.

On a per capita basis, the UAE’s vaccination rate is second only to Israel, which has administered 5.09 million doses, or 56.2 for every 100 residents.

In terms of actual doses administered, the US is the leading country, with 32.2 million shots completed so far, followed by China, which has released a figure of exactly 24 million.

The UK is fourth with 10.1 million, followed by Israel.

Prof Oxford said vaccination programmes were going well, especially given the high efficacy shown by the vaccines approved so far.

“I’m optimistic that things are going to go all right but so far it’s good to great,” he said.

Globally, 2.24 million people have died from the coronavirus, with Europe the hardest-hit continent. It has more than 750,000 deaths.

Updated: February 8, 2021 11:40 AM

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