A late-stage trial of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine is under way in Abu Dhabi.
The Phase 3 study, the second of its kind in the emirate, was announced in December.
Initially limited to 500 volunteers, the trial remains open for registrations to people aged 18 years and above.
Participants must live in Abu Dhabi, have not taken part in any other Covid-19 vaccination trial, and have not suffered from any communicable or severe respiratory diseases during the past 14 days.
News about the start of the trial comes a day after daily cases in the UAE crossed 2,000 for the first time, with 2,067 confirmed new Covid-19 infections.
Known as Sputnik V, the drug is an adenoviral vector-based vaccine developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
A vector is a virus that has been engineered – in this case a harmless cold-causing adenovirus – to carry the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus gene to cells.
It works by provoking the production of the virus’s crown-like spikes, resembling a natural infection, theoretically generating a robust immune response.
Its developers have said it is 92 per cent effective, based on early data involving a small number of volunteers.
The results of the combined Phase 1 and 2 trial, which were published in The Lancet, a UK medical journal, showed all 40 participants produced antibodies against the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein on day 42. All participants also developed neutralising antibodies.
There were no “unexpected adverse events” during the early trials.
Like many of the other vaccines against Sars-CoV-2, Sputnik V requires two injections.
Volunteers taking part in the Abu Dhabi trial will receive the two doses of the vaccine 20 days apart.
Participants are monitored through a combination of in-person visits and teleconsultations for 180 days after taking the vaccine.
Each injection uses a different strain of adenovirus, to ensure that if immunity develops to the first, adenovirus 26, the second booster vaccine, containing adenovirus 5, is still effective.
The use of two vectors makes Sputnik V different to the other adenovirus vector-based vaccines, such as the one produced by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
The study is being run by Department of Health Abu Dhabi, and supervised by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, with protocols handled by Abu Dhabi’s public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, Seha.
It is the second such study to take place in Abu Dhabi, following a study of two vaccines by Sinopharm that involved more than 30,000 people.
The Sinopharm vaccine received approval for use by the public in the UAE last month, and is now widely available across the country.