One day after Britain became the first Western nation to begin mass COVID-19 vaccinations, the United Arab Emirates says a Chinese-made vaccine has proven to be 86% effective in preventing moderate and severe cases of the disease.
The Emirates’ Health Ministry announced the news Wednesday about the vaccine developed by China’s state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.
The Gulf Arab state participated in a late-stage clinical trial launched by Sinopharm in September involving 31,000 volunteers across 125 nations. The UAE had also granted emergency use approval for the Sinopharm vaccine back in September.
The ministry says the vaccine had no serious safety concerns, but the statement did not include any detailed data derived from the study, such as how many volunteers were given the vaccine or a placebo, or if it produced any kind of side effects.
In spite of this omission, the health authority says the vaccine’s success paves the way for mass inoculations and a re-opening of its economy. The UAE had also granted emergency use approval for the Sinopharm vaccine back in September for health care workers deemed most at risk of infection.
The UAE announcement is the latest positive news about the global effort to develop a safe and effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus, which has killed 1.5 million people worldwide out of more than 68.2 million total infections.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that its review of the vaccine jointly developed by U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech was highly effective in protecting people against the virus, and posed no safety concerns to recipients. The review paves the way for the FDA to grant emergency authorization of the vaccine, which could come within days.
The FDA review came hours after a 90-year-old nursing home resident became the first person in Britain to receive the first of two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
But some health advocates say nine out of 10 people in 70 low-income countries will miss out on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine because more than 50% the most promising vaccines have been purchased by wealthier countries.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance, comprised of such human rights groups as Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS and Oxfam, are calling on vaccine makers to share their technology and intellectual property through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX, the joint project between the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, an organization founded by Bill and Melinda Gates to vaccinate children in the world’s poorest countries.