UAE says China's Sinopharm vaccine has 86% efficacy against Covid-19

In a photo taken on Nov 3, 2020, Dubai's Ruler Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (left) prepares to receive an injection of a Covid-19 vaccine. PHOTO: AFP PHOTO / HO / WAM

DUBAI (REUTERS) - An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm has 86 per cent efficacy against the virus, the United Arab Emirates health ministry said on Wednesday (Dec 9), citing an interim analysis of late-stage clinical trials.

While the positive data comes soon after last month's upbeat results from Western rivals, such as Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and from Russia, neither the UAE nor Sinopharm have released detailed data from the pivotal study.

In July, the Gulf Arab state started phase three clinical trials of the vaccine, developed by Beijing Institute of Biological Product, a unit of Sinopharm's China National Biotec Group (CNBG).

In September, it authorised emergency use of the vaccine for certain groups, the first such international clearance for a vaccine developed in China.

The analysis also shows "99 per cent seroconversion rate of neutralising antibody and 100 per cent effectiveness in preventing moderate and severe cases of the disease", the ministry said in a statement carried by the state news agency.

"The analysis shows no serious safety concerns," it said.

It also said it had officially registered the vaccine, without elaborating, and that 31,000 volunteers across 125 nationalities participated in the UAE trial.

It did not say what side effects or illnesses participants experienced or how many volunteers were given the vaccine and how many received a placebo.

CNBG could not be immediately reached for comment.

The vaccine, which uses an inactivated virus unable to replicate human cells to trigger immune responses, requires two doses, past trial data has showed.

The UAE trial is a partnership between Sinopharm's CNBG, Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence company Group 42 (G42) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health.

Sinopharm and G42 have also expanded the trial to Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain.

Abu Dhabi, the UAE's capital, this week said it was seeking volunteers to take part in clinical trials of Russia's Covid-19 vaccine, known as Sputnik V.

The UAE, with a population of around 9 million, has recorded 178,837 infections and 596 deaths from the disease.

The vaccine is among the three most advanced candidates from China in terms of development and has been used to vaccinate around one million people in the country under its emergency use programme.

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