The UAE's first COVID-19 vaccine production line has been launched by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and his Chinese counterpart.
The project has been titled "Life Sciences and Vaccine Manufacturing in the UAE".
The launch ceremony was held in Abu Dhabi during the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the UAE.
The vaccine, called Hayat-Vax [Hayat means life in Arabic], is the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in the region that will be manufactured by a newly created joint venture between Sinopharm CNBG, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world that has supplied over 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine globally, and G42, the leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi.
The occasion also served to launch a purpose-built research and development hub for life sciences, biotechnology and vaccine production, the first-of-its-kind in the Arab world, that is being set up in KIZAD, the integrated trade, logistics and industrial hub in Abu Dhabi.
Last year, G42 and Sinopharm CNBG successfully collaborated on conducting 4Humanity, the world’s first phase III clinical trial of inactivated vaccines across the Pan Arab region with over 43,000 volunteers participating from over 125 nationalities.
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 JV is already producing Hayat-Vax with its partner, Julphar in the UAE with an initial capacity of 2 million doses per month.
"The UAE and China today inaugurated a new chapter in their historic and distinguished relations, under the title 'Strategic Partnership for Humanity'," said Sheikh Abdullah.
"We are continuing the efforts that we initiated at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. A partnership that sets an example to be emulated for collaboration between friendly nations in times of crises," the UAE minister added, emphasising that the dividends of this significant project will be reaped, not only by the UAE and China, but by the entire world.
"The UAE, under the directives of our wise leadership, believes in the importance of collective action and concerted efforts in fighting such crises."
The launch ceremony started with a short video showing cooperation between the UAE and China during the COVID-19 crisis.
The two ministers carried a prototype of the new vaccine and took a commemorative photo to mark the occasion before watching a live stream from the vaccine production site in the UAE.
Addressing the ceremony Liu Jingzhen, the Chairman of Sinopharm, said, "Today we are making large strides in the global battle against COVID-19. And this pioneering project is the fruit of close cooperation and strategic partnership between the UAE and China.
"We are very proud of this partnership with G42. This project will play a significant role in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic in the UAE, the Arab region and the entire world."
For his part, Peng Xiao, CEO of G42, said the new project will "revolutionise the life sciences industry in the region over the coming years".
He noted that new technologies will allow the two sides to rapidly respond to the growing local and international demand for the vaccine in a way that will represent a significant step forward on the path toward standing up to the crisis.
Ahead of the ceremony, Sheikh Abdullah held talks with the Chinese Foreign Minister.
He commended the strong strategic partnership between both countries, thanks to which, he said, a number of joint projects have been implemented, primarily with regards to the global fight against COVID-19.