The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Wednesday the official registration of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the China National Pharmaceutical Group, or Sinopharm. Meanwhile, the first shipment out of about 8 million COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer arrived in Israel.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention said in a statement that the official registration is a significant vote of confidence by the country’s health authorities in the safety and efficacy of this vaccine.

The interim analysis of the phase III trials shows the Chinese vaccine provides 86 percent efficacy against COVID-19 infection, according to the statement.

As the first among the Gulf countries to report COVID-19 cases, the UAE health ministry on Wednesday announced 1,313 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 180,150.

The ministry also reported 789 new recoveries and two deaths, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 161,084 and the death toll to 598.

At the Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the vaccines carried in a cargo flight from Brussels, expecting that this vaccine will receive the regulatory approvals “in the coming days.”

Speaking at a press conference hours after the arrival of the Pfizer vaccines, Netanyahu announced that a COVID-19 vaccination for the population will begin on Dec. 27, with 60,000 shots prepared on a daily basis.

The Israeli Ministry of Health reported 1,527 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total infections in the country to 349,024, while the death toll from the virus rose to 2,933, with eight new fatalities added.

In Palestine, 1,883 new cases and 23 deaths were reported on Wednesday, raising the total number of infections in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to 117,233 and the death toll to 984.

Ibrahim Milhem, the Palestinian government spokesman, told a news briefing in Ramallah that Palestine is exerting efforts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus to avoid the collapse of its health system.

Turkish Health Ministry added 31,712 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, including 6,213 symptomatic patients, raising its total number of symptomatic patients to 558,157.

In addition, 217 people died in the past 24 hours from the virus in Turkey, taking the death toll to 15,531, while the number of the total recoveries climbed to 447,361.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said at a press conference that the daily confirmed infections of COVID-19 have surged by five times since April.

In Iran, the hardest hit country in the Middle East, the overall number of coronavirus cases has grown to 1,072,620 after 10,223 new infections were detected in the past 24 hours, while the pandemic has so far claimed the lives of 51,212 Iranians, up by 295 in the past 24 hours, according to Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Iranian health ministry.

She said 1,747 of the new COVID-19 patients had to be hospitalized, while 5,779 remain in critical condition.

It is worth noting that 64 Iranian counties are currently on red alert for COVID-19, while 278 counties are orange-flagged, and 106 others yellow.

Director of the Scientific Commission in Iran’s National Headquarters for Combating the Coronavirus Mostafa Ghanei said on Wednesday that one Iranian COVID-19 vaccine project has already received a license for human trial, and three others will receive it in January of 2021.

Iraq has so far confirmed 569,873 coronavirus cases in the country, with 1,735 new ones added on Wednesday.

It also reported 24 new deaths and 1,782 recovered cases in the country, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 12,501 and the total recoveries to 499,846.

Morocco reported 4,096 new COVID-19 cases and 57 deaths on Wednesday, raising the tally of infections to 388,184 and the death toll to 6,427 in the North African country.

The COVID-19 death rate in Morocco stands at 1.7 percent while the recovery rate is 88 percent, with 945 patients in intensive care units.

Saudi Arabia reported 159 new coronavirus cases and 13 more deaths, taking the kingdom’s tally of COVID-19 cases to 359,274 and its death toll to 6,002.

The total number of recoveries in the kingdom increased to 349,624, after 210 new recoveries were confirmed on Wednesday.

The Qatari health ministry on Wednesday announced 150 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number in the Gulf state to 140,353, official Qatar News Agency reported.

Oman reported 164 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the total number in the sultanate to 125,490, according to a statement by the Omani health ministry.

In Kuwait, 304 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths were reported on Wednesday, raising the tally of infections to 145,204 and the death toll to 905.

Algeria on Wednesday reported 598 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total infections to 90,014.

In Lebanon and Jordan, the number of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday rose by 1,274 and 3,088 respectively to 140,409 and 250,219. 


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