UAE launches world's first phase III clinical trial of inactivated coronavirus vaccine

ABU DHABI — The health authorities in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday launched the world’s first phase III clinical trial of an inactivated vaccine for coronavirus following an agreement between Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm China National Biotec Group and Group 42, the Abu Dhabi-based leading artificial intelligence and cloud computing company.

As part of a clinical cooperation agreement, G42 will lead the clinical trial operations in the UAE under the supervision of the Department of Health of Abu Dhabi, according to an official statement carried by WAM.

The deal was sealed during a ceremony held via video conference and was attended by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, the UAE’s Minister of Health and Prevention and top officials from both countries, including the heads of Chinese pharmaceutical company and the chief of G42.

Commenting on the initiative, the UAE’s health minister said: "Now more than ever, nations need to work in close partnership between the government and private sectors to create new initiatives, launch programs, develop policies, drive rigorous research, and develop capacity. It is for this reason that the United Arab Emirates welcomes all contributions by countries of the world, innovative entities and creative individuals who are committed to creating opportunities for joint collaboration toward confronting the threat of COVID-19 and defeating this global pandemic."

The clinical trial process is usually divided into three phases. The first phase mainly looks into the safety of the vaccine. Phase II evaluates immunogenicity and explores the immunization process in a limited number of individuals. Phase III considers the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in a larger population sample. If a vaccine is confirmed safe and effective throughout the entire clinical trial process, the test is considered successful, and the vaccine enters into the large-scale manufacturing phase.

Sinopharm CNBG inactivated vaccine already passed phases I and II clinical trials without showing any serious adverse reactions, with 100 percent of the volunteers generating antibodies after two doses in 28 days.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Hamed, chairman Department of Health Abu Dhabi said: "This partnership highlights the UAE’s broad multifaceted approach to combating the virus, which includes innovative research into effective treatments, enhanced testing capabilities, and continuous cooperation with the international community. The UAE will spare no effort in contributing to solutions to the current pandemic, solutions that will aid humanity’s ability to overcome the current pandemic."

Through this joint collaboration, Group 42 and Sinopharm CNBG aim to accelerate the development of a safe and effective vaccine that could enter the market by the end of 2020 or early 2021 to benefit humanity as a whole.

Tuesday's clinical trial commencement is the start of a series of national initiatives, to not only foster the population health but also enhance the UAE's medical research and development capabilities, including the local capacity to manufacture the vaccine. These initiatives will be communicated on a regular basis as part of the UAE's commitment to building a prosperous knowledge-based economy.




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