Second human trials of Russian COVID-19 vaccine launched in UAE

People sit as they wait their turn for vaccine trials at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 6, 2020. Picture taken October 6, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 October 2020

Second human trials of Russian COVID-19 vaccine launched in UAE

  • The trials in the UAE are the second trials of the Sputnik V vaccine abroad
  • Trials are also expected to begin in Venezuela in the near future

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.

Hundreds of Syrians exit Lebanese town over tensions: UN

Updated 25 min 35 sec ago

Hundreds of Syrians exit Lebanese town over tensions: UN

  • UNHCR spokesperson: ‘Collective punishment... for a whole community for an incident involving one individual is unacceptable’
  • Those who fled, said they were chased out of Bsharre, a Christian-majority town, after a Syrian was accused of shooting dead a Lebanese resident

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: At least 270 Syrian families have left a north Lebanon town, as hostility toward them mounted over a murder allegedly committed by a Syrian national, the UN refugee agency said Friday.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemned “collective reprisals against Syrians in the town,” of Bsharre, saying many of the families fled in fear without taking their belongings.
“Collective punishment... for a whole community for an incident involving one individual is unacceptable,” a UNHCR spokesperson said in a statement.
Many of those who fled the Christian-majority town said they were chased out by Bsharre residents after a Syrian on Monday was accused of shooting dead a Lebanese resident, sparking widespread tension and hostility.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported forced evictions of Syrians in the wake of the murder, but Bsharre’s mayor denied that the Syrians had left out of fear.
An AFP correspondent in Tripoli saw dozens of Syrian families gathering outside a UNHCR building in the northern city.
A group of young men in Bsharre “assaulted us, threatened us and started a fire” in the house, Umm Khaled, a 31-year-old Syrian mother of five told AFP.
“We picked up our children and ran away to Tripoli,” located more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) east, she said.
Yassin Hassan, a 30-year-old Syrian who had lived in Bsharre for years, said he was beaten by a group of men.
“We ran away... without taking anything from our homes,” he told AFP.
Tripoli is among the most welcoming destinations in Lebanon for refugees.
Lebanon, which is grappling with an economic crisis, says it hosts some 1.5 million Syrians, including around one million registered as refugees with the United Nations.
UNHCR said it received “a large number of refugees from Bsharre” in its Tripoli reception center.
They were encouraged to find alternative housing but those with nowhere to stay were moved to shelters, a spokesperson told AFP.
The reasons behind the murder that fueled anti-Syrian sentiments in Bsharre remains shrouded in mystery.
The Syrian suspect in question has handed himself over to authorities, the army said.
A judicial source said investigations were still underway.
The mayor of Bsharre says the town is home to nearly a thousand Syrians.
Authorities have called on refugees to return to Syria even though rights groups warn that the war-torn country is not yet safe.