DUBAI: Bahrain said on Sunday that it approved the use of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, following its earlier approval of a vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
Furthermore, Kuwait has granted emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine.
Bahrain’s state news agency said the Sinopharm vaccine would be available in the island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf.
However, it offered few details about the results of the vaccine study, in line with the United Arab Emirates, which last week announced that the vaccine was 86% effective. The Emirati statement provided few details, but marked the first public release of information about the effectiveness of the shot.
Bahrain said more than 7,700 have signed up to participate in a Sinopharm vaccine trial in the kingdom. The kingdom previously said it plans to give the public free coronavirus vaccines, but has yet to answer any questions about its program.
The Sinopharm vaccine has been approved for emergency use in some countries, and the company is still conducting late-stage clinical trials in 10 countries. Morocco is preparing for an ambitious COVID-19 vaccination program, aiming to vaccinate 80% of its adults in an operation that begins this month and is initially based on the Sinopharm vaccine.
Sinopharm’s vaccine is based on proven technology, which uses a killed virus to deliver the vaccine, similar to how polio immunizations are done. Major Western competitors, such as the injection by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, use newer and less-proven technology to attack the coronavirus spike protein using RNA. The UK has already started vaccinating people with the Pfizer injection and the US appears set to follow shortly.
Pfizer already reports that its injection is 95% effective, while another RNA candidate from Moderna appears to be 94.5% effective. The results suggest that a third vaccine from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is safe and approximately 70% effective, but questions remain about how well it can help protect those 55 and older.
On Sunday, Kuwait’s state-run KUNA news agency announced that the oil-rich country’s Ministry of Health had granted emergency use for the Pfizer vaccine. The ministry had already offered citizens the option to pre-register for the vaccine on its website.