Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 1 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: UAE authorises emergency use of vaccine for frontline workers

Health Minister Abdulrahman Al Owais says use of vaccine is fully compatible with laws and regulations

The UAE Health Minister, Abdulrahman Al Owais, has approved the use of a Covid-19 vaccine for frontline workers after successful clinical trials in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Al Owais said the inactive vaccine could be used in "cases of emergency" involving healthcare staff.

He said extensive tests involving 31,000 volunteers had shown the vaccine to be safe.

Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chairwoman of the National Clinical Committee for Covid-19, said volunteers felt only minor symptoms, such as a sore throat, during the trial.

"The emergency use of the vaccine is fully and completely compatible with the laws and regulations," Mr Al Owais said.

"And our goal is to provide all safety means for the first line of defence to protect them from any dangers they may face due to the nature of their work.

"The results of studies during the final stages of the third phase showed that the vaccine is effective and resulted in a strong response and the generation of antibodies to the virus.

"Studies on the safety of the vaccination have been reviewed and showed that it is safe for use."

Mr Al Owais said the move to make the vaccine available, on a limited basis initially, was a significant step forward in efforts to protect lives.

The vaccine was developed by 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 Phase 3.

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

A clinic was set up at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre to manage the trial and another was later established in Sharjah.

Hundreds of medical staff also came forward to lend their support to the project.

Dr Al Kaabi said the results of the clinical trials were "very positive".

She thanked the volunteers, representing 125 nationalities, for playing a key role in the fight to contain the pandemic.

"The initial results are encouraging in terms of the presence of antibodies in the body," Dr Al Kaabi said.

She said that studies were continuing.

"The side-effects that were detected are simple and expected, like any other vaccine," Dr Al Kaabi said.

"There were very normal symptoms, like feeling some pain in the throat.

"There were no serious side effects that required medical intervention. The preliminary results are positive.

"The vaccine was tried on 1,000 volunteers suffering from chronic diseases and no complications occurred to them."

Dr Al Kaabi said health authorities had taken every precaution to ensure the quality and safety of the vaccine trial.

The major breakthrough was announced as the UAE recorded 777 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country's total to 80,266.

A further 530 patients recovered as the overall tally climbed to 69,981.

No patients died during the 24-hour reporting period. The toll remained at 399.

The latest infections were detected after 64,084 more tests were conducted.

The UAE has conducted almost 8.2 million tests since the start of the outbreak.

Updated: September 15, 2020 02:50 AM

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