A vial and sryinge are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustrationtaken January 11, 2021. Image Credit: REUTERS

Abu Dhabi: The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi in collaboration with Rafed has announced the signing of the procurement of AstraZeneca’s AZD7442 into the local market.

The new and innovative medication is specifically designed to prevent severe infection and death in non-vaccinated high-risk patients.

This agreement comes in line with the country’s efforts to combat COVID-19, making the UAE amongst the first group of countries to receive the antibody medication for immunocompromised patients. This agreement cements Abu Dhabi as a regional life science hub and comes as part of a series of announcements on new partnerships and agreements.

Abu Dhabi has led an effective human-centred response based on collaboration with leading local and international pharmaceutical companies since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For AZD7442, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi has worked on establishing a seamless supply chain process via Rafed, which will facilitate the procurement, storage, and distribution of the AstraZeneca medication through the Rafed Distribution Center, the region’s largest facility specialised in cold-storage.

The availability of AZD7442 in the local market is a primary solution for the healthcare sector in the fight against COVID-19, ensuring the health and safety of all community members, regardless of their medical condition.

According to Dr. Jamal Mohammed Alkaabi, Undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, “The UAE continues to exhibit unprecedented leadership, with Abu Dhabi at its core, when it comes to a human-centred COVID-19 response. The public-private partnership behind AZD7442, the world’s first long-acting antibody COVID-19 medication, is yet another example of the UAE’s successful pandemic response thus far.”

“This medication will protect immunocompromised patients who could not receive the vaccine due to medical reasons and limiting autoimmune disorders. The UAE will continue to act as a catalyst for change by leveraging collaborations, both regionally and internationally,” Al Kaabi added.

This collaboration between DoH, Rafed and AstraZeneca is another important milestone for healthcare, logistics, and supply chain entities that continue to contribute to the evolution of Abu Dhabi’s medical sector.

Rashed Al Qubaisi, CEO of Rafed, added: “The UAE is demonstrating once again its commitment to safeguarding the health of its citizens and residents by working with leading pharmaceutical manufacturers around the world. AZD7442 brings great hope to patients with various immune disorders that are not able to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Through our strategic logistics partner network, Rafed is establishing an infrastructure to ensure a streamlined distribution across the UAE and potentially the Middle East & Africa.”

Sameh El Fangary, GCC and Pakistan Country President for AstraZeneca, added: “This collaboration is another achievement for the UAE and the world as it demonstrates unified efforts to bringing innovative solutions and medication to the UAE and the rest of the GCC. We are proud to work with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi and Rafed as they lead the way as one of the first countries to procure AZD7442, a medicine which has the potential to prevent and treat COVID-19, especially in those who remain at risk despite vaccination.”

The signing of the agreement follows a declaration made by DoH and AstraZeneca to collaborate in the areas of innovation, clinical research, real world evidence generation, digital health and the global positioning of Abu Dhabi as a life Science hub.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DoH has implemented various preventive measures and has been at the forefront of adopting innovative medical solutions to enable the community to return to normalcy. As a result of its successful and coordinated pandemic response, Abu Dhabi was ranked as one of the top cities in the world based for its response to COVID-19, according to the London-based analytics consortium, Deep Knowledge Group (DKG).