China's Sinopharm begins late stage trial of COVID-19 vaccine in Abu Dhabi


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DUBAI, July 16 (Reuters) - Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm has begun Phase III clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine in the emirate of Abu Dhabi using around 15,000 volunteers, the Abu Dhabi government media office said on Thursday.

The human trial taking place in Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates, is a partnership between Sinopharm's China National Biotec Group (CNBG), Abu Dhabi based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Group 42 and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health.

The trial, which is scheduled to take three to six months, began on Wednesday.

It will use volunteers aged 18 to 60 years of age who are resident in Abu Dhabi city and Al Ain in the emirate, the government said.

No COVID-19 vaccine has yet been approved for commercial use.

According to a WHO summary of the state of vaccine development for COVID-19, there are 23 potential COVID-19 vaccines in human trials, with three of them in or starting large-scale late stage (or Phase III) trials to test efficacy.

Sinopharm, which got approval for the trial in late June, is using an inactivated vaccine - a technology that is well known and has been used to make vaccines against diseases such as influenza and measles.

China has been looking overseas to trial potential vaccines because of a lack of new patients at home. China's Sinovac Biotech SVA.O is conducting Phase III trials of a vaccine in Brazil.

The experimental vaccine passed Phases I and II of clinical trials with 100% of volunteers generating antibodies after two doses in 28 days, the Abu Dhabi government statement said.

The UAE says it has conducted more than 4 million coronavirus infection tests on a population of around 9.6 million. It has recorded almost 56,000 cases of infection and 335 deaths.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Alison Williams and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)


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