06/05/2021, 10.20
MIDDLE EAST
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Chinese vaccine ineffective, third dose immediately in the Gulf (and for Erdogan)

United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to roll out third dose with Pfizer to those who have previously received two of Sinopharm. China’s vaccine would not have stimulated adequate antibody production. The Turkish president also receives a third dose, but does not reveal the product. Outcry from opposition: he already on his third dose, ordinary people still waiting for their first.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - United Arab Emirates (Eau) and Bahrain have decided to make the Pfizer / BioNTech m-RNA vaccine available to strengthen the population immunization campaign, initially based on the Chinese product Sinopharm.

The unsatisfactory results that emerged following the use of the vaccine made in Beijing, with an increase in cases despite the presence of a substantial portion of people who received both doses, prompted the authorities to focus on a product that has shown - so far - greater effectiveness.

Doubts about the true level of protection prompted Abu Dhabi and Manama to provide a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine. Extensive studies have shown that, in a substantial portion of people, the Chinese serum had not stimulated adequate production of antibodies in the immune system, favoring the onset of new cases at the root of the waves that recently hit the two Gulf nations.

In Bahrain last month there was the peak of infections since the beginning of the health emergency, with at least 3 thousand cases per day. The United Arab Emirates has up to 2,000 new positives per day, less than the peak recorded in February with 3977 but at least double compared to early December, when the vaccination campaign was still a long way off.

The infections are taking place despite the fact that in both countries a large part of the population is vaccinated, most of them with a double dose of Sinopharm. In the Emirates over 50% of the population received the first dose, about 40% also the second. In Bahrain the first dose was administered to 56% of the population and the second to 47%.

The Emirates began administering the Sinopharm vaccine to the population last December and the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine in April. Bahrain approved both vaccines in December. In May, health authorities in Abu Dhabi and Manama offered the option of receiving a third dose of Sinopharm, due to poor results from the first two, but have now turned decisively to the Pfizer-BioNTech m-RNA vector.

The effectiveness of the Chinese vaccine seems to have also "betrayed" Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, targeted by critics for having received a third dose (it is not known whether Pfizer or Sinopharm,) while much of the country is still waiting for the first. The 67-year-old Turkish leader received the first dose in January and the second in February; in recent days he admitted that he also had a third administered, without however specifying the type of product.

At the time of Erdogan's third vaccination, ordinary citizens had to wait up to 12 weeks, well beyond the recommended four, to receive the second dose due to shortages. Among the critical voices that of Engin Ozkoc, head of the main opposition parliamentary group, the Republican People's Party, according to which "there is not even one dose for the citizens, but there are three for Erdogan". Nearly 50,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Turkey, whose vaccination campaign is still struggling to take off. According to Reuters estimates, less than 20% of Turks received the two doses.

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