UAE Grants Emergency Use for COVID-19 Vaccine for Healthcare Workers

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The United Arab Emirates has granted Emergency Use Authorization to an investigational vaccine for the novel coronavirus six weeks after late-stage studies began. The country’s health authority greenlit a vaccine under development by China-based Sinopharm, according to reports.

On Monday, the UAE health authorities said the experimental vaccine will be administered to frontline healthcare workers who are dealing with cases of COVID-19 and are at higher risk of exposure. Sinopharrm initiated a Phase III study of its vaccine candidate in UAE in July, Reuters reported. The UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority announced the emergency authorization on Twitter. The agency noted the vaccine will be available “to our first line of defense heroes who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus.”

UAE has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days. According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard, there are more than 80,000 confirmed cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in that nation. In its report, Reuters noted that on Saturday, testing revealed more than 1,000 new cases and on Monday, there were 777 new diagnoses. There have been 399 deaths related to the disease, according to the Dashboard.

The United Arab Emirates went forward with the emergency use of the vaccine after the preventative medication hit certain milestones in the ongoing clinical studies, Reuters said. The experimental drug has reportedly been tested on more than 31,000 people. In Phase I and Phase II studies, patients who received the medication generated antibodies following two doses of the medication over a period of 28 days.

Sinopharm’s vaccine was developed from a SARS-CoV-2 strain isolated from a patient in the Jinyintan Hospital, Wuhan. The virus was cultivated in a qualified Vero cell line for propagation, and the supernatant of the infected cells was inactivated with β-propiolactone, according to the researchers.

The emergency authorization of Sinopharm’s vaccine candidate in the UAE follows Russia’s decision to approve a vaccine for use in its country earlier this year. Unlike the UAE though, the Russians granted full approval for that vaccine. Russia’s vaccine is an adenoviral vector vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute. The vaccine has been genetically modified to infect cells than make those cells manufacture spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2, the novel virus that causes COVID-19. Russia had its vaccine in clinical testing for about two months before it approved the medication.

As BioSpace reported, the Gamaleya Institute’s director, Aleksandr Gintsberg, announced on television in May that he had been dosed by the vaccine before announcing the completion of monkey trials. The Russian government has not shared clinical data from its vaccine program, so there is little proof of its efficacy.

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