By Abdulrahman Al Nuaimi, Head of Consular Affairs
More than one year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems we are finally turning a corner as vaccines against the coronavirus become more available in many countries. The UAE has administered over 120 doses of COVID-19 vaccines per 100 people, placing it at the top of the global rankings for vaccination rates. Although we have not reached the end yet, I am hopeful that we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Looking back, I am proud that my country prioritized getting COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies to those most in need. The UAE was one of the first countries to come forward and send crucial oxygen equipment and medicines to India as the country fights a dangerous surge in COVID-19 infections. And Emirates Airline has set up a humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India to rapidly transport medical supplies to nine cities in India free of charge. From the beginning, the leadership of the UAE recognized that we will only be able to put this pandemic behind us once everyone is safe, and it’s vital that we work collaboratively with other nations to beat this global health crisis.
In this spirit, the UAE is playing an important role in facilitating and accelerating the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, where storing and delivering vaccines is especially challenging. “The issue of less developed countries needing access to COVID vaccines is a critical one, and we all share a responsibility to address it,” Deputy Chief of Mission Shaima Gargash underscored in a discussion with the US-UAE Business Council.
The UAE is using its world-class logistics network, cold storage capacity and central location as a transit hub to help move vaccines from manufacturers to these countries. By working with international partners like the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF in support of the COVAX Facility, millions of doses have been transported to places across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi initiatives are at the center of UAE efforts around vaccine distribution. The Dubai Vaccines Logistics Alliance combines the global reach of Emirates with DP World’s worldwide network of ports and logistics operations, along with the infrastructure of Dubai Airports and the International Humanitarian City. Emirates SkyCargo had transported nearly 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccines as of late April, and one out of every 20 doses administered globally has transited through Dubai on an Emirates aircraft.
Abu Dhabi’s Hope Consortium consists of the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Ports, Etihad Airways and other partners, including US companies UPS and FedEx. It aims to deliver 18 billion doses globally by the end of this year. At the World Immunization & Logistics Summit, convened by the Hope Consortium in March to address the challenges in global distribution, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman noted, “The global community has never done anything like this before. It will be a test of our humanity and our ingenuity. But with leadership from countries like the UAE, we can succeed.”
The UAE is providing much needed supply chain solutions to ensure that populations hit hard by the pandemic have access to COVID-19 vaccines. This is the key to moving beyond this virus that has plagued us this past year. Witnessing the impact of the UAE’s support in countries where it is most needed makes me proud as an Emirati and a diplomat. I look forward to brighter days ahead for us all.