The UAE’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised by a panel of experts at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
The roundtable, held on Wednesday, also heard experts discuss the historic Abraham Accords signed between the UAE and Israel in 2020, saying they presented a huge opportunity for increased medical technological advancement through collaboration between health actors in the region.
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Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates topped the list of countries with more than one million inhabitants in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of the rate of fully vaccinated individuals, according to a published index. by Our World In Data.
The UAE also ranked second in the world in number of tests performed per 1,000 people, fourth in people vaccinated per 100 people and first in recipients receiving at least one dose of vaccine.
During the panel discussion, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said the knowledge exchange between the UAE and Israel during the pandemic was a prime example. bilateral cooperation.
“There has been a medical exchange between the two countries during the pandemic and work has been done on researching the virus, vaccine, etc. It has accelerated a lot of things and we have seen some of the concrete results impacting the control of COVID-19 within the UAE,” said Dr Thani.
He participated in the panel discussion on “The Accords of Abraham: An Uncharted Vehicle for Healthcare Innovation”, organized by UAE-based VPS Healthcare at Burjeel House in Davos.
The session also featured Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, President of VPS Healthcare, and Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States.
Dr. Vayalil also highlighted how the UAE has set a new pattern through proactive initiatives and interventions during the pandemic.
“I remember a speech by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, guaranteeing that no one living in the country would be deprived of medicine or food. I think it was a good start.
“We were all excited about the commitment, we were all part of this fight against COVID-19. The UAE has established a new model of public-private partnership during the pandemic, and it has the potential to go around the world,” he said.
At the start of the pandemic, VPS worked with the government to introduce thermal scanners to screen passengers entering the airport and was also one of the first healthcare groups to transform its flagship hospital – Burjeel Medical City – into a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, with 400 beds ready for infected patients and deployed one of the largest vaccination missions, with more than five million vaccines administered to date.
Earlier this year, Dr Vayalil, in an interview with Al Arabiya English, said the pandemic response is no longer a key priority for the healthcare company, saying the world must now learn to live with the COVID-19.
Dr Thani also referred to the signing of the Abraham Accords, saying that in less than two years, bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel has increased to more than $2.5 billion.
“In the first quarter of this year, we passed $1 billion,” Dr Thani said, adding that the UAE is keen to engage and capitalize on Israel’s strong health sector. “We announced two years ago $3 billion in R&D funds for more engagement in the region.
“We are on the verge of signing the free trade agreements, sending a strong message that the potential is high and concrete projects are underway.”
Praising the cooperation between Israel and the UAE in different fields, Rabinovich said tangible steps should be taken to maintain the momentum.
“The UAE has been involved in a very important project where we are producing both water and electricity in Jordan,” he said. “The UAE plays a crucial role in this project.
“The relationship started well and is going well.”
‘Beneficial agreements for the health sector’
Dr Vayalil said the health sector is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Abraham Accords – stressing that potential partnerships between the UAE and Israel could have huge ramifications for the entire region.
“Health is one of the greatest bridges that can unite nations and peoples,” he said. “We have seen a lot of bilateral movement between Israeli research companies and research organizations.
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“The next big disruption may come from some of these research collaborations. Opportunities are growing due to Abu Dhabi’s pool of capital and Israeli research talent.
“As a healthcare company, we are very excited to be part of this period of the relationship.”
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