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.

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Iran imposes new restrictions to stem coronavirus spread

Updated 31 October 2020

Iran imposes new restrictions to stem coronavirus spread

  • Rouhani announced new restrictions that will take effect on Wednesday in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces for 10 days
  • Police will make unannounced visits to other high-risk businesses, and those that violate health protocols will be shut down

Weddings, wakes and conferences will be banned in the Iranian capital until further notice as the Middle East’s hardest-hit nation battles a third wave of COVID-19, police said on Saturday.
President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile announced new restrictions that will take effect on Wednesday in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces for 10 days.
The official IRNA news agency said Tehran police had extended by one week the closure of businesses including beauty salons, teahouses, cinemas, libraries and fitness clubs.
Police will make unannounced visits to other high-risk businesses, and those that violate health protocols will be shut down, IRNA quoted police official Nader Moradi as saying.
Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said in a televised press briefing that the new restrictions from next week in the 25 provinces and 89 counties will include include the closure of institutions such as schools, universities, libraries and mosques.
Rouhani said in televised remarks that strict health protocols should be observed when holding weddings and funerals in those provinces and counties.
Iranian authorities have blamed a sharp increase in cases on people failing to follow restrictions, and Rouhani said an operations headquarters will be set up to ensure compliance with the health protocols.
Total COVID-19 deaths rose by 386 over the past 24 hours to reach 34,864, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Saturday, adding total cases rose by 7,820 to 612,772.