According to officials, the UAE’s volunteer numbers are the 'highest in the world to date for a Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trial'. Image Credit: AP

Abu Dhabi: Registrations for the UAE’s COVID-19 vaccine trials are now closed, following the enrolment of more than 31,000 volunteers from more than 100 nationalities.

At its launch on July 16, 2020 the UAE Phase III trials for the world’s first inactivated vaccine against coronavirus — dubbed "4Humanity" — had aimed to reach a sample size of 15,000.

This sample size was well exceeded, with large swathes of people signing up in just over a month’s time.

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The Abu Dhabi Media Office said the trials had seen “overwhelming community support, with volunteer numbers achieved in six weeks”. The UAE’s volunteer numbers are the “highest in the world to date for a Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trial”.

As a result, the walk-in registration centres at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and Sharjah’s Al Qarain Centre, will not be accepting any more new volunteers.

Second shot

However, the centres will continue to operate, offering services to volunteers who need their second shot of the vaccine, as well as for those who have received both doses of the vaccine and now need periodic checks according to the approved protocols and timeline.

The 4Humanity trials are for a vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm China National Biotec Group.

The developer said its vaccine has successfully generated antibodies in all volunteers, who received two doses 28 days apart, during the first two trial phases in China. As the Abu Dhabi Media Office reiterated, it had not caused any side effects during the China trials.

In the UAE, the trials were sponsored by Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing firm Group 42. They were administered by Abu Dhabi’s public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), and overseen by the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH) and the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention.

Last week, the trial’s second volunteer in the UAE — DoH undersecretary Dr Jamal Al Kaabi — told Gulf News he had completed the 42-day trial period and that his results are now being analysed along with those of the first 100 volunteers.

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“It is a double-blinded study with three strains delivered to volunteers — a placebo, Strain 1 and Strain 2. Analysis will now be carried out to study the impact of each kind of shot on volunteer’s immunity. The target is usually to achieve a four-fold increase in immunity from the baseline,” he had said.

Group 42 is now also sponsoring the Phase III trials in Bahrain and Jordan.