DUBAI: The UAE has become the first Middle East country to approve clinical trials of Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) virus.
An announcement from the Emirati Ministry of Health and Prevention gave the go-ahead to trials on human subjects of the Russian drug, developed in the prestigious Moscow Gamaleya research institute.
The trials will commence immediately and will form part of the third-phase trial of the vaccine, currently being tested on humans in Russia and Belarus.
The vaccine development has been overseen by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, whose chief executive, Kirill Dmitriev, told Arab News: “The UAE has demonstrated one of the most advanced approaches in the world to combat the coronavirus pandemic. It is a good partner to us, alongside other countries in the Middle East.”
Doctors and health officials from Saudi Arabia have visited Moscow to assess the Sputnik V vaccine, and the Kingdom could also participate in trials. Success in the UAE trials would ease acceptance of the drug in other countries in the region, Dmitriev added.
He declined to say how many people would be involved in the UAE trial, but did reveal that the UAE has already tested antibodies of a 70-year-old Russian, who previously received the vaccine in Russia. The man tested in Abu Dhabi had shown a very high level of antibodies to the virus as a result of the vaccine.
Some 12,000 human subjects have trialed the vaccine in Russia, with a target number of 40,000. Results are expected by the end of next month.
The vaccine was fast-tracked by the Russian authorities in view of the pandemic emergency and the country’s long-standing expertise in vaccine development.
UAE Health Minister Abdulrahman Al-Owais said: “The UAE is an outstanding destination in which to trial a COVID-19 vaccine such as Sputnik V, thanks to the diverse nature of its population. People from more than 200 nations live and work in the UAE across a wide range of socio-economic demographics and age groups.”
The UAE is already administering a Chinese-developed vaccine to frontline health workers.
The progress of testing of the Russian drug will be supervised by the Abu Dhabi heath authorities and administered by the UAE laboratory provider Pure Health.
The progress of testing of the Russian drug will be supervised by the Abu Dhabi heath authorities in partnership with Aurugulf Health Investment.
Dmitriev said there had been big demand for the vaccine around the world, and that doses were to be supplied to Mexico, Brazil, India, and Uzbekistan, as well as Russia and Belarus.