UAE announces emergency approval for use of coronavirus vaccine

Decision taken following a surge in infections over the weekend when the Gulf state registered 1,000 cases a day.

A scientist conducts research on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the laboratories of RNA medicines company Arcturus Therapeutics in San Diego, California, U.S.,
The UAE has granted emergency approval for the use of a vaccine amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases in the country [Bing Guan/Reuters]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has granted emergency approval for the use of a coronavirus vaccine, six weeks after human trials in the Gulf state started.

The third phase of the trial of a COVID-19 inactivated vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopham began in the UAE in July and is yet to be completed.

“The vaccine will be available to our first line of defence heroes who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus,” said the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority in a tweet on Monday.

The announcement came amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases in the UAE, which reported 1,007 cases on Saturday, its highest since the start of the pandemic.

Emergency use of the vaccine, which is still being tested, was granted after a set criteria and after it had been tested on 31,000 volunteers, it said.

Mild and expected side effects occurred but there have been no severe side effects, the agency said without specifying. It added a thousand people suffering from chronic diseases who took part saw no complications.

Sinopharm secured approval for the trial in late June. The experimental vaccine passed the first and second phases of clinical trials with 100 percent of volunteers generating antibodies after two doses in 28 days, an Abu Dhabi government statement said in July.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, inactivated vaccines – made with either inactivated (killed) viruses or with a protein from the virus – are well known and have been used against diseases such as influenza and the measles.

Russia in August became the first country to grant regulatory approval for a coronavirus vaccine, after less than two months of human testing.

Source: Reuters