Listen to this article now
The world’s newest anti-viral treatment for COVID-19, Sotrovimab, is now available for early treatment of certain categories COVID-19 patients in the UAE following a landmark agreement between the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, the country’s leading group purchasing organization (GPO) Rafed, and global innovative biopharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). With the arrival of the first shipment yesterday in Abu Dhabi airport, Abu Dhabi become the first location globally to receive this drug.
Sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody treatment delivered through intravenous therapy. Sotrovimab can be used to treat adults and children above the age of 12 who meet certain criteria and are at risk of progressing to severe COVID-19, as per protocols that have been developed by the National Scientific Committee. Studies have shown the medicine to prevent hospitalization and death in 85% of early selected treatment cases and can work on all known variations to date.
Following USA Food and Drug Agency Emergency use authorization approval, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) issued its endorsement of the new GSK medicine following a national assessment. Abu Dhabi Department of Health & Rafed executed its agreement with the manufacturer to ensure deliveries as early as June and July, enabling patients in the UAE to be among the first in the world to access the new therapy. The National Scientific Committee in MoHAP & Abu Dhabi Department of Health have worked on the treatment protocols that will guide doctors in defining at risk patients and ensuring that they have access to Sotrovimab according to their risk profile and eligibility criteria.
Abu Dhabi-based Rafed will facilitate the procurement, storage and distribution of Sotrovimab via the Rafed Distribution Center – the Region’s largest specialized cold-storage facility. The Center has played a vital role to support the efforts of the HOPE Consortium, and is a milestone collaboration by healthcare, logistics and supply chain entities designed to facilitate the ongoing evolution of Abu Dhabi’s medical and life science offering to combat the pandemic, nationally and internationally
HE Dr. Jamal Mohamed Kaabi, Undersecretary for the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, said: “Abu Dhabi continues in its efforts to maintain its number one city position globally in terms of resilience and safety in COVID19 times. Through the non-ending support and guidance from our leadership, we continue in our daily preemptive efforts to search, assess and source through local and international collaboration, the best evidence-based treatment to our population in Abu Dhabi, UAE and beyond. This medicine is at the forefront of pharmaceutical advancement and is a powerful tool in our fight to end this pandemic. We look forward to implement the eligibility criteria for emergency use of Sotrovimab as part of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to lead an all-encompassing COVID -19 response in prevention, treatment and care.”
Rashed Al Qubaisi, CEO of Rafed said: “Sotrovimab represents a massive breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19. Through our close collaboration and partnership with the Department of Health and GSK, we have been able to work swiftly in the procurement of the medication to ensure an effective and timely roll-out across the UAE. The Rafed Distribution Center continues to fulfil its mission of better serving the UAE public and extending Abu Dhabi’s Covid-19 response to the world.”
As the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi finalizes a coherent framework to determine eligibility for Sotrovimab treatment, Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of the Etihad Aviation Group, has transported the first batch of Sotrovimab into the UAE utilizing its IATA CEIV-certified PharmaLife product.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “This achievement further elevates Abu Dhabi’s leading position in the fight against COVID-19, and firmly illustrates the combined capabilities of those entities at the forefront of the capital’s mission. As the UAE’s national carrier, Etihad has played a critical role facilitating the transportation of vaccines and medical supplies to and from the UAE with its specialist pharmaceutical logistics solution.”
After receiving positive scientific opinion by the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Human Medicinal Products – an important step for the use of the medication for early treatment of COVID-19 across Europe – GSK has submitted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) application to the US Food and Drug Administration and the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and got approval from both.
“We have been working very closely with the Department of Health and Rafed since the interim results of the clinical trials with Sotrovimab were available” said Gizem Akalin, Managing Director and Vice President, GSK Gulf. “The DOH and Rafed have been agile and passionate about accelerating patient access to promising new treatments to confront COVID-19”.
“Our partnership with DOH and Rafed is holistic, securing early access to Sotrovimab so that the population in Abu Dhabi and UAE will be among the first in the world to get this new treatment”, Akalin said. “There is a great level of scientific and medical collaboration to ensure that medical teams are ready and equipped. As GSK, we see this close cooperation as another sign of Abu Dhabi’s rapid development as a hub for first class treatment, medicines research, logistics and manufacturing” The high efficiency and provision of General Administration of Customs has been a great support to all the efforts involved throughout the process of receiving the Sotrovimab medication at the Abu Dhabi International Airport, as they have ensured a smooth and rapid custom clearing for the medication to facilitate the release of the shipment from the airport customs port at the earliest, thereby enabling the medication to reach patients faster.