A Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the United Arab Emirates is 86% effective, the kingdoms federation said Wednesday in a statement that provided few details, but was the first public statement about the drug’s effectiveness.
The UAE, which includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi, started a clinical trial of the Chinese state pharmaceutical developed vaccine Sinopharm in September, which included 31,000 volunteers from 125 countries. The volunteers, ages 18 to 60, received two doses of the vaccine over a 28-day period.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention announced the results through a statement in the state agency WAM, stating that they had « reviewed the provisional analysis of the phase 3 trials of Sinopharm CNBG. »
« The analysis does not show serious safety concerns, » the statement said, without detailing whether any participants had suffered side effects.
At first it was not clear whether the announced results included only the participants in the trials in Emirates or also data from China and elsewhere. The statement indicated that the drug had been « registered », without detailing what that meant.
Neither Sinopharm nor the Emirati authorities initially responded to questions from The Associated Press.
However, calls made on Wednesday to SEHA, the health authority in Abu Dhabi, included an option for individuals to make an appointment to receive a « COVID-19 vaccine. » The center was overwhelmed with calls after the announcement about the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Sinopharm’s vaccine has been licensed for emergency use in several countries, and the company continues to conduct late-stage clinical trials in 10 countries. Morocco is preparing for an ambitious COVID-19 program that it hopes to immunize 80% of its adult population, in an operation that would begin this month and that will initially use the Sinopharm drug.
This vaccine is based on an established technology, using a killed virus to immunize the patient, in a similar way to vaccines such as polio. The leading Western candidates use newer and less proven technology to attack the virus protein using RNA.
Members of the Emirates’ governments, such as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, have been publicly vaccinated within the trials.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Abu Dhabi announced that it would resume « all economic, tourist, cultural and entertainment activities in two weeks, » a decision that it attributed to « successes » in curbing infections.
Abu Dhabi requires travelers arriving from the other six kingdoms of the UAE to be tested for coronavirus within 48 hours of arrival.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Emirates has detected more than 178,000 cases of the virus, with 160,000 recovered patients and almost 600 deaths. Its aggressive testing policy has included running some 17 million tests in a country with just over 9 million people.
Meanwhile, in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the first delivery of doses of the Pfizer vaccine, indicating that it was a great cause for celebration.
“I believe in this vaccine. I hope it receives the appropriate approval in the next few days, « he said, noting that he intended to be the first to receive it. « We see the end of the pandemic. » (I)