UAE: World’s first phase III trial of COVID-19 vaccine begins in Abu Dhabi

World’s first phase III clinical trial of COVID-19 inactivated vaccine begins in UAE

The world's first clinical Phase III trial of Sinopharm CNBG’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccine begun in Abu Dhabi in the UAE on July 16. Enlisted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the vaccine trials are facilitated by the extensive efforts and commitment of the UAE Leadership to combat the Coronavirus pandemic with global cooperative efforts.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of Abu Dhabi's Department of Health, became the world's first individual start the trial of Phase III inactivated vaccine for COVID-19 virus. After him, Department’s Acting Undersecretary Dr Jamal Al Kaabi was the second volunteer for the vaccination trial. The beginning of the Phase III clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine in Abu Dhabi displays UAE government and the health authorities' commitment towards developing a cure for the global health pandemic that has affected millions of lives across the world.

This vaccine trial is facilitated by the collaborative partnership between Abu Dhabi-based G42 Healthcare and China-based Sinopharm CNBG which is the sixth-largest vaccine manufacturer in the world.

Health practitioners from Abu Dhabi Health Services, SEHA, are carrying out the vaccine trials wh are providing facilities at five SEHA clinics in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain along with a mobile clinic such that trials are easily accessible to the volunteers.

Notedly, G42 Healthcare has developed a comprehensive laboratory in a bid to accelerate the efforts to tackle the pandemic crisis, including disease detection, manufacturing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), conducting critical research for new vaccines and drug therapies. The company has been using its advanced AI capabilities to detect and understand changing trends in the pandemic outbreak, virus mutations, and ways to contain the disease.

The UAE was the preferred choice among the partners for conducting the Phase II vaccine trials. With more than 200 nationalities residing in the UAE, it would facilitate robust research across multiple ethnicities which will further expand the feasibility of the vaccine for global application once it shows successful results.

Reportedly, 15,000 volunteers have been issued permits from the UAE Health Authorities for their participation in the trials. At the same time, G42 Healthcare and SEHA are taking efforts to achieve a minimum of 5,000 participants in the first stage of the programme in a bid to procure robust and valid results. The beginning of Phase III vaccine trials in Abu Dhabi witnesses the commencement of a series of national initiatives led by the UAE authorities for boosting health and wellbeing of the population along with enhancing medical research and development capabilities of the country.

The clinical vaccine trials took place in the presence of the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE Ni Jian, senior health department officials, and G42 Healthcare and Sinopharm CNBG representatives. The first group of volunteers which included UAE nationals and expatriates were provided the vaccine at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. The trials are being conducted in accordance with all international guidelines provided by the WHO and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and are being strictly guided and supervised by officials from the Department of Health Abu Dhabi and SEHA. One the study achieves success, it will be approved and accredited by the Ethics Committee for Scientific Research in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking over the development, Dr. Nawal Ahmed Alkaabi, UAE Principle Investigator Sheikh Khalifa Medical City CMO, and Chairperson of the National COVID-19 Clinical Management Committee, said that it is a matter of national pride that they are able to help facilitate the vaccine trial process in the crucial fight against the pandemic crisis.

"It is a matter of national pride that we are able to help facilitate the trial process that could have a worldwide impact and help people around the world to benefit from research and – if successful – the manufacture of a vaccine to fight back against this disease," he said.

The first two phases of the clinical trials which were conducted by Sinopharm in China provided positive results with 100 percent volunteers generating antibodies after two doses in 28 days. Now, the phase III trials will last for 42 days for individual volunteers aged between 18 to 60 living in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

One of the most crucial factors in developing the COVID-19 vaccine is urgency amid a global application. G42 Healthcare has been using computing power, data processing, and diagnostic analysis to facilitate the successful delivery of the world’s first phase III trials of inactivated vaccine.

Commenting over the trials, G42 Healthcare CEO Ashish Koshy said that using AI solutions, super-computer, and advanced diagnostics solutions for COVID-19, the company is uniquely postured to conduct these trials.

"We are enormously proud that Sinopharm CNBG has partnered G42 Healthcare in this groundbreaking phase III clinical trial in the UAE. G42 Healthcare will be responsible for running clinical operations for this trial. We will be leveraging our group’s technical and our own business capabilities to compute, correlate and provide fast and synthesized insights by deploying multiple AI models on the data generated during the trials to accelerate the much-awaiting results," Koshy added.

Furthermore, Jingjin Zhu, President, Biological products, Sinopharm CNBG hailed the UAE as a nation of innovation and tolerance, adding that it is home to individuals from every part of the world and ethnic background. Jingjin Zhu asserted that with UAE's support and partnership with G42 Healthcare, along with assistance from other medical and clinical entities, will help in battling the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"We will work closely with our partner to complete this clinical trials successfully, and make this vaccine available to the people in need worldwide," Zhu added.

With the official start of the trials, G42 Healthcare and the UAE Health Authorities are soon going to launch a public awareness campaign to encourage UAE residents to volunteer for the clinical trial programme.


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