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Image Credit: Seyyed de la Llata/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Hussa Al Mansoori, an Emirati vaccine trial volunteer in the UAE, can’t wait to develop immunity against COVID-19.

Part of the 4Humanity project, she received the second dose of the vaccine on Sunday, along with many service sector workers who had queued up for the shots.

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“I am confident that we will be able to beat COVID-19, as more and more people get the vaccine and it proves successful at combating this disease. When I went in for my second dose, I noticed large groups of expat taxi drivers, restaurant workers and salon staff at the centre. It was heartening to see so many people, especially those who come into contact with others as workers in the service sector, willing to support the initiative,” Al Mansoori, 49, an IT executive in the capital, told Gulf News.

The procedure

Speaking about her experience getting the second shot, Al Mansoori said the process was very smooth.

“The process took about three hours, and was similar to when I got the first shot. The only difference was that I did not have to get a blood test before the vaccine shot,” she explained.

Hussa Al Mansoori
Hussa Al Mansoori gets her second vaccine dose Image Credit: Supplied

Describing the procedure, Al Mansoori said she was first assigned a wrist band so that she could be distinguished from other trial volunteers.

The trials
The 4Humanity trials were kicked off in the UAE on July 16, when Abu Dhabi’s top health officials — DoH chairman and undersecretary — became its first participants. The inactivated vaccine itself was developed by Chinese pharmaceutical giant, Sinopharm China National Biotec Group, and has safely and successfully generated COVID-19 antibodies in all people who participated in Phase I and Phase II trials in China.
In the UAE, the trials are being sponsored by Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing firm, Group 42, and overseen by the DoH and the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention.
All medical processes are being carried out by Abu Dhabi’s public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha). More than 15,000 people have signed up to volunteer for the trials across the UAE so far.

A health care worker took her temperature and pressure, then she waited to consult with a doctor. “I was asked how I was feeling and whether I had had any trouble after the first dose. When everything appeared to be all right, the team took a nasal swab from me for a COVID-19 test. After this, I was sent in for the next shot,” Al Mansoori explained.

After her vaccine, she was escorted to an observation room.

Appreciated for participation

“I was served some breakfast and juices, and after a short while, a health care worker came to check on my blood pressure and temperature. Then I was handed a ton of goodies — an activity tracker, a T-shirt, a cap, face masks, Dh300 worth of shopping vouchers, and a glowing certificate of participation,” Al Mansoori said.

The certificate of appreciation presented to Al Mansoori. Image Credit: Supplied

“The Department of Health Abu Dhabi (DoH) extends its deepest gratitude and appreciation for your participation and volunteering in the phase 3 clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine to serve your country, community and humanity. We wish you continued success and prosperity,” the certificate reads.

What is different

Al Mansoori will now have to continue tracking her symptoms through the day for the next week.

“I have to keep an eye on my symptoms for the next eight days, and record them. In addition, I have to measure my temperature four times every day — morning, noon, afternoon and night — and record only the highest reading. Before the second dose, I only had to take a temperature reading once every day,” Al Mansoori said.

She is now scheduled for a blood test on September 6, 36 days after she received the first vaccine shot. “I am excited to see how this pans out, and how my body gains immunity to the coronavirus. A number of my colleagues are also participating in the vaccine trials, so we’re exchanging notes all the time,” Al Mansoori said.