Following a ceremony held today via video conference between Abu Dhabi and Beijing, health authorities from the United Arab Emirates have announced the commencement of the world’s first phase III clinical trial of a COVID-19 inactivated vaccine.
Inspired by the UAE Leadership’s vision and commitment to overcome the pandemic through a global collaborative effort, a clinical cooperation agreement was signed between the Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and Group 42 (G42), the Abu Dhabi based leading artificial intelligence and cloud computing company. G42 will lead the clinical trial operations in the UAE under the supervision of the Department of Health of Abu Dhabi.
Attending the ceremony in the UAE were Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health & Prevention; Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman Department of Health Abu Dhabi; Ni Jian, Chinese ambassador to the UAE; Dr. Hamdan Musallam Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Red Crescent and Dr. Jamal Alkaabi, Acting Undersecretary of Department of Health.
In the presence of Liu Jingzhen, Chairman of Sinopharm; Yang Xiaoming, Chairman of Sinopharm CNBG; Li Can, President of Sinopharm International; Hao Peng, Chairman of SASAC; Dr. Ali Al Dhaheri, the UAE Ambassador to China, a large delegation of representatives from Sinopharm CNBG and Chinese medical authorities also took part in the ceremony connecting via video conference from the cities of Beijing and Wuhan.
Commenting on the initiative Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health & Prevention said: "Now more than ever, nations need to work in close partnership between the government and private sectors to create new initiatives, launch programs, develop policies, drive rigorous research, and develop capacity. It is for this reason that the United Arab Emirates welcomes all contributions by countries of the world, innovative entities and creative individuals who are committed to creating opportunities for joint collaboration towards confronting the threat of COVID-19 and defeating this global pandemic."
The clinical trial process is usually divided into three phases. The first phase mainly looks into the safety of the vaccine. Phase II evaluates immunogenicity and explores the immunization process in a limited number of individuals. Phase III considers the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in a larger population sample. If a vaccine is confirmed safe and effective throughout the entire clinical trial process, the test is considered successful, and the vaccine enters into the large-scale manufacturing phase.
Sinopharm CNBG inactivated vaccine already passed phases I and II clinical trials without showing any serious adverse reactions, with 100% of the volunteers generating antibodies after two doses in 28 days.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman Department of Health Abu Dhabi said: "This partnership highlights the UAE’s broad multifaceted approach to combating the virus, which includes innovative research into effective treatments, enhanced testing capabilities, and continuous cooperation with the international community. The UAE will spare no effort in contributing to solutions to the current pandemic, solutions that will aid humanity’s ability to overcome the current pandemic."
Through this joint collaboration, Group 42 and Sinopharm CNBG aim to accelerate the development of a safe and effective vaccine that could enter the market by the end of 2020 or early 2021 to benefit humanity as a whole.
Today's clinical trial commencement is the start of a series of national initiatives, to not only foster the population health, but also enhance the UAE's medical research and development capabilities, including the local capacity to manufacture the vaccine. These initiatives will be communicated on a regular basis as part of the UAE's commitment to building a prosperous knowledge based economy.