UAE has sufficient vaccine supplies to support need for third 'booster' dose, health expert says

Medics recommend residents test for antibodies three months after their second jab

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, January 12, 2021. SEHA Vaccination Centre at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal area.  Abdulaziz Karmastaji gets vaccinated.
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  Shireena Al Nowais
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The UAE has sufficient supplies of Sinopharm vaccine to allow for some residents to take a third 'booster' shot to further protect them against Covid-19.

Extra doses were administered to a 'small number' of people whose immune systems were found to have not responded to the vaccine, a health expert said.

Residents concerned they might not have enough antibodies have been told they can check their levels, but should wait until three months after their second Sinopharm shot.

It happens that some people will not respond as well as other people

"We recommend that if you want to do so, it's within the period of three months of receiving your second shot, and then every three months to ensure that you have a sufficient level of antibodies to prevent, or fight against severe forms of Covid-19," Walid Zaher, chief research officer of G42 Healthcare, the company responsible for distributing the Sinopharm vaccine in the UAE, told Dubai Eye's Business Breakfast programme.

Dr Zaher said some people did not create enough antibodies to protect them against Covid-19 – a phenomenon “which is expected with all vaccines.”

He emphasised that very few people required a booster.

"It's a very small number compared to the millions who have received the vaccine already," he said.

“The main purpose here is to ensure the safety of everyone, and that was already achieved. It happens that some people will not respond as well as other people."

Dr Zaher said they had researched the benefits of giving a third dose of the Sinopharm vaccine, and so far the results had been positive.

"It has been shown within the context of a study, to boost immunity to a protected level from Covid-19, and that was the purpose behind giving the third shot to some people," he said.

“Let's think of this as a flu, and it's known that every year you have to renew your flu shot. So think of it as the same thing."

UAE Sinopharm vaccine trial – in pictures

Residents who get an antibody test and find they have low levels of immunity to Covid-19 are not currently able to request a third shot. Instead, Dr Zaher recommended people should consult their doctors.

“The medic will then notify the healthcare facilities and authorities, and you will be scheduled for a third shot,” he said.

Those who participated in the initial Sinopharm vaccine trial and do not know if they received a placebo or the real thing, should consult the centre where they initially received their injections.

Details of the third booster injections were revealed as the UAE announced the restart of vaccinations for all residents.

The Emirates had briefly limited the availability of vaccines to the vulnerable and over-60s, but this has once more been extended to all.

Appointments are necessary for the first and second dose, but can be booked in most vaccine centres within a two-week window.

Dr Zaher emphasised that the UAE had ample supplies of the Sinopharm vaccine to cater for the third jabs.

“You're talking about a very small number of people, so the answer is definitely yes.

"If you're running a mass campaign to vaccinate millions of people, then there is definitely a couple of thousand – enough to vaccinate people who did not respond as well," he said.

UAE leaders receive their Covid-19 vaccine