Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

UAE firms strike deal with Israeli companies on coronavirus research, says official

Four companies plan to jointly develop research and technology to help overcome 'this unprecedented crisis'

Pedestrians in Dubai's Deira district wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus as the worldwide search for a vaccine or treament for Covid-19 continues. Pawan Singh / The National
Pedestrians in Dubai's Deira district wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus as the worldwide search for a vaccine or treament for Covid-19 continues. Pawan Singh / The National

Two private UAE companies have signed an agreement with two Israeli firms to develop research and technology to fight the coronavirus outbreak, a UAE official announced on Thursday night.

Hend Al Otaiba, director of strategic communications at the UAE Foreign Ministry, said the move was “in light of strengthening international co-operation in the fields of research, development and technology in service of humanity” during the pandemic.

Global cases of Covid-19 passed 9 million this week and are on track to hit 10 million with the next seven days.

Ms Al Otaiba did not name the UAE or Israeli firms involved in the deal, stating “two private companies in UAE signed an agreement with two companies in Israel to develop research and technology to fight Covid-19”.

No Arab state other than Egypt and Jordan has formal relations with Israel, although the UAE does not have specific laws against conducting business there, as do some Middle East countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the news would help to improve health security in the entire region.

Coronavirus around the Middle East

Israel claimed a "significant breakthrough" towards a treatment for Covid-19 last month, saying it had isolated a crucial coronavirus antibody at its main biological research laboratory.

It is just one of more than 125 potential vaccines undergoing tests, with 20 in human trials.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday that an effective Covid-19 vaccine may take more than a year to develop.

WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told members of the European Parliament's health committee that if such a vaccine were found, it should be available to all.

"It would be very difficult to say for sure that we will have a vaccine," Dr Tedros told the video conference.

"Hoping that there will be a vaccine, the estimate is we may have a vaccine within one year.

"If accelerated, it could be even less than that, but by a couple of months. That's what scientists are saying."

Updated: June 26, 2020 08:29 AM

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