The COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered, or considered, in the MENA region

Over the past month, a number of COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for general or emergency use in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In our previous article, we looked at the main 4 types of vaccine – and the pros and cons of each one.

Now, using data collated by the Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, along with various regional government media statements, we bring you a roundup of the actual COVID-19 vaccines currently circulating in the MENA. The most common ones at the moment, in no particular order, are by Sinopharm, Sinovac, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Sputnik V (Gamaleya Research Institute). Here’s what’s known about them.

Editor’s note: Information is accurate at time of publishing; however, given the ongoing updates in research – plus possible changes in governmental decisions – the availability and reliability of these vaccines is subject to change at any time.

 

1) WHOLE VIRUS VACCINE

Sinopharm (Beijing Institute of Biological Products)

Total number in registered trials: 56,128

Efficacy data: 79% in a press release; no supporting details reportedly provided

Storage requirements: Refrigeration (2°C to 8°C)

Manufacture projections: No official information; up to 1 billion doses in 2021 according to media reports

Approval status worldwide: Full or emergency use in China

MENA countries using, approving or considering: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan (emergency use), Morocco, United Arab Emirates

 

Sinopharm (Wuhan Institute of Biological Products)

Total number in registered trials: 52,864

Efficacy data: Pending

Storage requirements: Refrigeration (2°C to 8°C)

Manufacture projections: Pending

Approval status worldwide: Limited use in China

MENA countries using, approving or considering: Limited use in United Arab Emirates

 

Sinovac

Total number in registered trials: 32,738

Efficacy data: Pending

Storage requirements: Refrigeration (2°C to 8°C)

Manufacture projections: No official information; up to 600 million doses per year according to media reports 

Approval status worldwide: Limited use in China

MENA countries using, approving or considering: Limited use in Egypt

  

2) RNA or mRNA VACCINE

Pfizer-BioNTech

Total number in registered trials: 45,838

Efficacy data: 95% based on primary efficacy analysis of 170 confirmed cases

Storage requirements: Ultra-cold (-60°C to -80°C)

Manufacture projections: Up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021

Approval status worldwide: Full or emergency use in numerous countries; granted emergency use approval by the WHO on 31 Dec 2020

MENA countries using, approving or considering: Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tunisia

 

Moderna

Total number in registered trials: 33,720

Efficacy data: 94.5% based on interim data from 95 cases; these apparently included 11 cases of severe COVID-19, all of which occurred in the placebo group

Storage requirements: Refrigeration (2°C to 8°C) for up to 30 days or frozen (-15°C to -25°C) for long-term storage

Manufacture projections: Up to 1 billion doses per year

Approval status worldwide: Full or emergency use in USA, Canada, EU, UK

MENA countries using, approving or considering: Israel, Qatar

  

3) NON-REPLICATING VIRAL VECTOR

Oxford-AstraZeneca

Total number in registered trials: 68,066

Efficacy data: 62–90% based on interim data from 131 cases

Storage requirements: Refrigeration (2°C to 8°C)

Manufacture projections: 3 billion doses in 2021 

Approval status worldwide: Emergency use in countries, including UK, India, Argentina, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador

MENA countries using, approving or considering: Egypt (reportedly in talks), Libya (reportedly in talks)

 

Sputnik V (Gamaleya Research Institute)

Total number in registered trials: 45,086

Efficacy data: 91% in a press release; estimates based on 170 confirmed cases, including 20 cases of severe COVID-19, all of which occurred in the placebo group

Storage requirements: Lyophilised formulation requires refrigeration (2°C to 8°C) or frozen formulation (maximum -18°C)

Manufacture projections: No information on institute website; up to 1 billion doses in 2021 according to media reports

Approval status worldwide: Early or emergency use in Russia, Belarus, Argentina, and Serbia

MENA countries using, approving or considering: Algeria, Egypt (reportedly in talks), Palestine

 

4) PROTEIN SUBUNIT

No COVID-19 vaccine of this type is currently approved for widespread use.

 

On a final note, while some vaccines have been approved more quickly, that doesn’t necessarily signify anything in terms of efficacy or reliability. Ultimately, it is up to the user to decide which vaccine they would prefer.

For example, an mRNA vaccine has arguably been able to secure distribution before other vaccines due to the type of vaccine involved.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), elaborates: “Once a pathogen’s genome has been sequenced, it is relatively quick and easy to design a vaccine against any of its proteins… Moderna’s RNA vaccine against COVID-19 entered clinical trials within two months of the SARS-CoV-2 genome being sequenced. 

“This speed could be particularly important in the face of new emerging epidemic, pandemic pathogens or pathogens which are rapidly mutating.”

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