Covid-19 vaccine tested in UAE 'shows promise for elderly'

A study published in The Lancet shows good results from China in Stage 1 and 2 trials for people older than 60

Volunteers for the Covid-19 vaccine trial wait to be screened at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Victor Besa / The National
Powered by automated translation

A new study shows early trials of a Chinese vaccine currently being tested in the UAE were safe and produced an immune response.

The study, published in the The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, showed promising results from Phase 1 and 2 trials in China, with participants from ages 18 to 80.

More than 31,000 volunteers in the UAE have taken part in the vaccine's clinical Phase 3 trials.

The findings indicate that this vaccine, called BBIBP-CorV, may be effective for the elderly, one of the groups most susceptible to the Covid-19 virus.

“Protecting older people is a key aim of a successful Covid-19 vaccine as this age group is at greater risk of severe illness from the disease,” said Professor Xiaoming Yang, one of the study’s authors.

“However, vaccines are sometimes less effective in this group because the immune system weakens with age. It is therefore encouraging to see that BBIBP-CorV induces antibody responses in people aged 60 and older, and we believe this justifies further investigation.”

Its Phase 1 and 2 trials were carried out in China between 29 April and 30 July and involved more than 600 healthy volunteers.

The Lancet reported that in early trials, the vaccine triggered antibodies that block the virus from infecting cells in all participants within 42 days.

Participants aged 60 and over were slower to respond and produced fewer antibodies.

Younger participants detected antibodies within 28 days.

The vaccine was tolerated well at all doses, according to the study.

A clinical trial for a different vaccine had similar results but which was only tested on people under age 60.

The vaccine is developed by Beijing Institute of Biological Products affiliated to state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and based on inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The study was not designed to assess the vaccine's effectiveness at preventing infection, so it is not yet known whether it produces enough antibodies to provide immunity.

During Phase 1, researchers studied three dose levels and a placebo on 96 participants from 18 to 59 years old and 96 participants from 60 to 80 years old.


UAE vaccine trial - in pictures


Phase 2 investigated the optimal timing for vaccination and indicated a booster shot was needed for the greatest antibody response.

Clinical trials for 42 different Covid-19 vaccines are under way around the world.

This study was carried out by researchers in China from the Henan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, The Beijing Institute of Biological Products, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutes in China.