Coronavirus: 31,000 volunteers take part in UAE vaccine trials

Officials praise effort and spirit of volunteers taking part in trials

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More than 31,000 volunteers have taken part in clinical Phase 3 vaccine trials in the UAE, authorities said on Sunday.

Volunteers of 120 different nationalities signed up to test the inactive vaccine, which contains a killed version of the coronavirus.

Thousands of volunteers have already received their second shot of the vaccine and will continue to undergo regular monitoring and health checks, Wam reported.

This indeed is an accomplishment in the field of health care and will place our country at the forefront of global research efforts to confront this pandemic

The vaccine passed the first two phases of clinical testing without causing any side effects to the volunteers. All of those taking part generated antibodies to fight the disease.

The UAE Minister of Health and Prevention, Abdulrahman Al Owais, praised the civic spirit of the volunteers.

“From the very outset the UAE leadership was totally committed to overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic through a global collaborative effort," Mr Al Owais said.

“The public-spirited nature of citizens and residents, and their willingness to volunteer is a powerful endorsement of the proactive approach the UAE has taken in what is a world-leading inactivated vaccine trials programme.

"Everyone involved in the trials, from the volunteers to the clinical and administrative staff, can be enormously proud of what has been achieved already showing once again the sense of unity and shared purpose that has driven the nation for the past five decades."

The vaccine was developed by pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, based in China, where phases 1 and 2 of the trials were successfully conducted.

The UAE is involved through an agreement with technology company Group 42 and was chosen for the third phase for its population diversity.

The entire process from vaccination to completion of health checks takes 42 days.

The World Health Organisation-recognised trial began on July 16.

Abu Dhabi's Department of Health said there were now enough volunteers to complete the clinical trial, so no new registrations would be accepted as of August 30.

Vaccine centres at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and Al Qarain in Sharjah are closed to new volunteers but remain open for those taking their second shot of the vaccine.

Those taking part in the trial can also continue going to the centre for other health check-ups required as part of the programme.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, chairman of the Department of Health and Prevention, said the UAE’s vaccine trials were a world-class accomplishment.

"This achievement would not have been possible without the support of our wise leadership and its continuous support of scientific research in the healthcare sector,” he said.

“This indeed is an accomplishment in the field of health care and will place our country at the forefront of global research efforts to confront this pandemic."

Jingjin Zhu, president of Sinopharm Group Biological Products, has praised the role played in the development of the trial in the Emirates.

"The speed of these trials to date and the incredible diversity of volunteers who have been vaccinated has fully reinforced our decision that the UAE was a perfect location to test our inactivated vaccine and reach the widest demographic and ethnic range of volunteers," he said.