Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in the UAE, Abu Dhabi has demonstrated an impressive model in terms of pandemic response, mitigation and recovery. Due to its proactive measures, Abu Dhabi emerged as one of the world's leading cities in effectively responding to the pandemic crisis.
Abu Dhabi authorities implemented necessary health and safety measures to protect the wellbeing of the community along with the provision of medical treatments to fulfil the requirements of all segments of society. The emirate has been offering various preventive treatments for infected individuals and for those who are unable to receive the vaccine. Abu Dhabi has ensured its ongoing efforts are in line with the belief to enhance global measures to strengthen healthcare in the emirate and the world.
In this regard, Dr. Jamal Al Kaabi, Under-Secretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), thanked the wise leadership who spared no effort to protect the health and safety of all community members during the pandemic.
"We consolidated our cooperation ties with distinguished global partners to contribute to establishing the emirate as an innovation hub for a healthier Abu Dhabi; upgrade the pioneering model presented by the emirate in mitigating the pandemic’s repercussions; and continue to empower national competencies and capabilities," Dr. Al Kaabi added.
In line with these measures, Abu Dhabi added AstraZeneca’s Evusheld to its existing medications. It facilitated the UAE in joining the league of first countries worldwide to receive a global shipment of this medication.
The partnership between Abu Dhabi and AstraZeneca was established as part the emirate's ongoing efforts to develop cooperation with pioneering international companies and institutions in the field of the pharmaceutical industry and medical research. Such partnerships have helped Abu Dhabi in providing advanced treatments to enhance the health and safety of all community members in the emirate.
AstraZeneca's long-acting antibody medication Evusheld is designed to prevent severe infection among immunocompromised and unvaccinated patients. Abu Dhabi received Evusheld doses as part of the collaboration between Rafed and AstraZeneca in the presence of DoH officials.
Sameh El Fangary, Country President - GCC and Pakistan, AstraZeneca, hailed Abu Dhabi for its efforts at the forefront to tackle the pandemic and its proactive response in line with the UAE's visionary leadership. El Fangary further welcomed Abu Dhabi's decision to procure and receive Evusheld doses to prevent COVID-19 in the emirate. He also affirmed to continue advance scientific innovation and fast recovery to assist in tackling concerning issues of the society.
"We are proud to collaborate with DoH to build a more resilient, sustainable and robust healthcare system to position the capital as a life sciences hub. Our recent MoU signed with G42 to further enhance clinical research and diagnostics frameworks in the UAE along with our partnership with the UAE’s leading healthcare supply chain, Rafed, demonstrates our long-term commitment to improving patient lives in the UAE and globally," he added.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Abu Dhabi has been collaborating with international entities, such as Roche, the world’s largest biotech company, to adopt its casirivimab and imdevimab for the prevention of the virus and treating mild to moderate symptoms among infected patients.
The strategic partnership between DoH and Roche contributes to the future of healthcare transformation with the support of real-world evidence generation and research guidelines and enhancing health technology assessment process in accordance with global standards. The two entities are also working towards accelerating access to diagnostics and treatment innovations in the emirate to enhance Abu Dhabi's position as a life science hub globally.
The Roche treatment contains two monoclonal antibodies: casirivimab and imdevimab. Combined, they form a monoclonal antibody combination with the potential to treat COVID-19 patients as well as prevent exposure to the virus. It has been approved in the European Union and Japan, and conditionally approved in the UK and Australia. Recommended by the World Health Organisation, it has also received approval for emergency use or temporary pandemic use in the United States, India, Switzerland and Canada.
Dr. Mohamed El Shaarawy, General Manager, UAE Roche Pharmaceuticals, said that the company immediately responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by leveraging its expertise in infectious diseases and forging partnerships to design solutions to support local and global response against COVID-19. After fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year, the Roche Pharma COVID-19 portfolio now consists of diverse treatment solutions with differentiated Mode of actions (antivirals and immunomodulators) to cover various stages of the COVID-19 patient journey.
"We are honoured to have our collaboration with DoH to support their efforts and vision as a world-class healthcare ecosystem and spearhead the latest advancements for COVID-19 prevention and treatment," Dr El Shaarawy added.
Global innovation hub
At the same time, Abu Dhabi was the first city globally to receive Sotrovimab after the drug received emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration in June 2021. It is a monoclonal antibody treatment generated through intravenous therapy. As per protocols by National Scientific Committee, it can be used to treat eligible adults and children above the age of 12 from severe COVID-19 symptoms. The development came in line with the signing of a Declaration of Collaboration between DoH and the leading global healthcare company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
According to Gizem Akalin, PhD, Vice President and Managing Director of GSK Gulf, the firm has been enjoying an outstanding collaboration with DoH in their efforts to defeat the pandemic in Abu Dhabi. GSK has been working with policymakers, senior officials and front-line healthcare providers on a regular basis to enhance patients' access to the firm's innovative and highly effective treatment.
"At every step of the way, DoH has demonstrated a model of nimbleness, creativity and determination to be emulated, which helped in managing the pandemic successfully. Abu Dhabi has set a new benchmark in effective pandemic response and presents a highly relevant global model of successful industry-government partnership in an emergency health situation," Akalin added.
The DoH has also collaborated with a number of leading international companies specialised in medical solutions, pharmaceutical industries and diagnostics, including Pfizer to boost Abu Dhabi's clinical research capacity and national competencies. Both entities announced a mutual agreement focusing on clinical trials and enhancing research efforts and medical processes in the emirate.
Pfizer will be supporting the Department in creating a training curriculum to advance clinical trials and drug development programmes in the emirate. As part of this collaboration, Pfizer will train 150 clinical researchers within 2 year to support the DoH's goal to achieve 500 qualified clinical researchers by the year 2025.
Additionally, DoH has become the region's first healthcare regulator and second globally in terms of adoption and development of the Population Health Model (PHM).
The PHM is aimed at facilitating early detection, management and comprehensive prevention programme of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). It has been developed as part of a cooperation with the Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company, Novartis, to boost Abu Dhabi's positioning as a global healthcare destination and an incubator for innovation. The model also helps in enhancing preventive measures against CVDs, containing the number of CVD cases and reducing its complications among the residents in Abu Dhabi by developing necessary data to help healthcare professionals in delivering required safety measures and treatments.
Furthermore, the Emirati capital has strengthened cooperation with Belgium to establish a global air corridor for the distribution of vaccines and medical equipment between Abu Dhabi and Brussels. This partnership is in line with Abu Dhabi healthcare sector's capabilities to emerge as a leading life sciences hub. At the same time, it supports the HOPE Consortium’s efforts to provide and deliver vaccine solutions to the world.