The United Arab Emirates has approved the use of the Chinese-made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 3-17, the Emirati government said Monday.
“The decision comes after clinical trials and extensive evaluations and is based on the emergency use authorization and local evaluations which are in line with the approved regulations,” tweeted the UAE's National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority.
The Khaleej Times reports that the UAE is the first country in the region to have carried out clinical trials of the vaccine on the under-17 age group, with 900 children taking part in the Sinopharm study in June. Among the participants were several children of Abu Dhabi’s royal family.
The Persian Gulf country has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates and had already approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12-15. More than 78% of the UAE's population of 9.2 million has received one vaccine dose and over 70% is fully vaccinated.
Citizens and residents can receive Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik V or AstraZeneca vaccines free of charge in the UAE. In May, the Emirati government announced it would offer a booster shot of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine to those who had already received two jabs.
Despite its effective vaccination program, the UAE is still recording an average of more than 1,500 new cases per day. On Monday, the Ministry of Health and Prevention reported 1537 new infections and five deaths from the virus, raising the total since the start of the pandemic to more than 683,000 infections and 1956 deaths.
Beginning Aug. 20, only vaccinated adults in Abu Dhabi will be permitted to enter some public places including shopping centers, restaurants, cafes and gyms. On Monday, the Ministry of Education said children 16 and older must be fully vaccinated to attend school in the oil-rich emirate.