25 September 2020
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The United Arab Emirates has announced it approved the emergency use for healthcare workers of a coronavirus vaccine still in the final phase of human trials.

“The vaccine will be available to our first line of
defense heroes who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus,”
tweeted the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA)
on Monday.

Chinese drug giant Sinopharm began the third phase of trials
for a Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE in July, with Emirati officials saying the
results have been positive.

“Clinical trials for the third phase are continuing
under the strict supervision of medical teams, while following all measures to control
the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” said NCEMA.

“The results of clinical trials in our country are
moving on the right path, with all tests being successful so far.”

NCEMA said the vaccine has been tested on 31,000 volunteers
and only “mild and expected” side effects have been reported, adding
that 1,000 test subjects with chronic diseases showed “no
complications”.

The announcement on Monday came amid a spike in coronavirus
cases in the UAE, whose daily toll hit an all-time high on Saturday when the
country recorded 1,007 infections.

The Gulf state has confirmed more than 80,000 cases overall,
including 401 deaths.

Sinopharm has said it hopes their vaccine will be approved
as early as the end of the year.

It anticipates the antibodies from its vaccine could last
between one and three years, although the final result will only be known after
the trials.

There are currently nine vaccine candidates in late-stage
human trials around the world, although some have hit recent obstacles — pharma
giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University momentarily paused clinical trials last
week after a volunteer developed an unexplained illness.

Meanwhile, Russia announced last month that its vaccine,
named “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first
launched into space in 1957, had already been approved.

This raised concerns among Western scientists over a lack of
safety data, with some warning that moving too quickly on a vaccine could be
dangerous.

Abdul Gh Lone

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