The United Arab Emirates said that a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the federation of sheikhdoms is 86 percent effective.
UAE’s announcement, though not very detailed, marks the first external validation of China’s fast-paced vaccination efforts which have faced criticism for a lack of transparency.
The UAE conducted a trial involving 31,000 volunteers from 125 nations. Volunteers between the age group of 18-60 received two doses of the vaccine over 28 days.
Developed by Sinopharm unit China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the vaccine has been administered to hundreds of thousands of people under emergency authorization in China, but it’s yet to receive public use approval from any drug regulators.
The UAE’s Health and Prevention Ministry announced the results saying they “have reviewed Sinopharm CNBG’s interim analysis of the Phase III trials. The analysis shows no serious safety concerns,” the statement said.
It was not immediately clear whether the results released covered only those participating in the UAE trials, or whether they also included results from China and elsewhere. The statement described the vaccine as receiving “official registration” without elaborating on what that meant.
In a few countries, the Sinopharm vaccine has been approved for emergency use and the company is also conducting late-stage clinical trials in 10 countries. Morocco is planning for an ambitious COVID-19 vaccination campaign to vaccinate 80 percent of its adults in an operation initially based on the Sinopharm vaccine beginning this month.
A good vaccine option for the world
The 86 percent success rate of the vaccine is among the most effective the world has seen, making the shot a potentially more favorable alternative than leading western vaccines to protect a majority of the population in the developing world. It is on track to fulfill the pledge of Chinese President Xi Jinping to make a “global public good” as part of the effort to rehabilitate the reputation of the Asian country after the pandemic emerged from its city of Wuhan.
Sinopharm’s shot relies on a tested technology, using a killed virus to deliver the vaccine, similar to how polio immunizations are made. Leading Western competitors like Moderna and Pfizer use newer, less-proven technology to target the coronavirus’ spike protein using RNA.
Top UAE officials, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, have publicly received the shots as part of the vaccine trial.