The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has announced it will be hosting the world’s first Phase III clinical trials of an inactivated vaccine to combat COVID-19, which was developed by Abu Dhabi-based G42 Healthcare and Sinopharm CNBG, the world’s sixth largest vaccine manufacturer.
The ministry said it is now dedicating the Al Qarayen Health Center in Sharjah as the first centre outside the emirate of Abu Dhabi to register, screen and test volunteers wishing to participate in the world’s first Phase III clinical trials of an inactivated vaccine to combat COVID-19.
The move has been taken in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and G42 Healthcare.
Al Qarayen Health Center has the capacity to register and screen over 500 volunteers a day and is open to residents from Sharjah and neighboring Emirates as the trials continue to gather nationwide momentum since the launch of #4Humanity campaign on July 16, 2020.
It is being managed by G42 Healthcare in partnership with MOHAP and will play a central role in facilitating procedures for registering volunteers and conducting necessary tests.
HE Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health & Prevention, said: “The UAE health sector adopts a flexible and multi-track strategy in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which depends on competent authorities conducting the largest possible number of medical tests and providing necessary care for the infected persons.
Meanwhile, we are strengthening our cooperation with international partners to support the development of a safe vaccine against the disease. Thus, expanding the geographical scope of the #4Humanity campaign to include all emirates aims to enhance the results of clinical trials and ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine on a larger segment of individuals”.
Al Owais added: “We are optimistic about achieving promising results that would support the global efforts being made to develop the vaccine. Allocating Al Qarayen Health Center as the first centre outside of Abu Dhabi to register, screen and test volunteers is yet another a distinct contribution from the UAE, to be added to its impeccable record of achievements in the field of clinical research thanks to the country’s advanced infrastructure, the efficiency of its health system and ability to conduct medical research according to the highest international standards”.
Resources & Capabilities
For his part, Dr. Mohammad Salim Al Olama, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Prevention and Chairman of the Emirates Health Services Establishment, stressed the ministry’s keenness to harness all necessary resources and capabilities to ensure the full readiness of Al Qarayen Health Center and facilitate the success of the third phase of the tests.
“Thousands of people of different nationalities have already expressed their desire to take part in the clinical trials, which reflects the confidence in the UAE health system and its ability to conduct clinical trials to test the promising vaccine in partnership with local and international parties”, Al Olama said.
He reaffirmed that the centre has enough space and ideal facilities that help register and conduct medical tests for volunteers according to the best scientific standards, and is open to residents from Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates.
CEO of G42 Healthcare, Ashish Koshy added: “The #4Humanity programme has captured the imagination of residents in every Emirate who are keen to volunteer and help find a cure for the world’s biggest health challenge of the 21st Century.
“Since the launch, it became quickly apparent of the strong desire of health authorities and residents across the UAE to play their part and help ensure the success of these trials at a truly national level. Our teams are now working closely with MOHAP and SEHA to ensure our advanced technology and measurement process complements their frontline testing of volunteers.”
Thousands of Volunteers
The extension of the trials process comes in the wake of enormous success of a walk-in registration, screening and testing centre that was opened by G42 Healthcare at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi prior to the Eid Al Adha holidays that has already attracted thousands of volunteers and remains open from Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 8pm.
This continues to be a part of a series of national initiatives to both foster population health and to enhance the UAE's medical research and development capabilities, including the local capacity to manufacture the vaccine. The trials process is being conducted following the international guidelines stipulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Food & Drug Authority (USFDA).
The phase III clinical trials follow the success of the phase I and phase II trials conducted by Sinopharm in China, which resulted in 100% of the volunteers generating antibodies after two doses in 28 days. The phase III trials are open to individual volunteers aged between 18 and 60 living in the UAE and will last for three to six months, with the volunteers required to be available for follow ups during this time.