Human trials of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, named Sputnik V, will be held in the United Arab Emirates, the second country after Belarus to take part in the program of which results are expected before the end of November, Moscow said on Monday.
The vaccine, first licensed by Russian authorities for domestic use in August, is currently being tested on 40,000 volunteers in Moscow as part of a late-stage trial known as Phase III.
The trial in the UAE has received regulatory approval from the Gulf state’s health ministry, and the process will be supported by local laboratory provider PureHealth, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad, said in a statement.
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“The results of the UAE trial will be combined with the results of the of the trial in Russia and other countries,” Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in the statement, adding that interim results will be published before the end of November.
The first participant in the trial is due to be injected soon. RDIF declined to comment on how many people will receive the jab in the UAE as part of the trial or when it is due to begin.
The UAE’s health minister said that the Gulf state’s high degree of demographic diversity made it an advantageous location to hold a vaccine trial.
“People from more than 200 nations live and work in the UAE,” AbdulRahman bin Mohammed al-Owais said in the same statement.
Plans to launch Phase III trials of Sputnik V in India suffered a setback last week after India’s drug regulator said early-stage trials - already conducted in Russia - must be done locally first too.
Around 2,000 people have already received the first and second component of the Sputnik V vaccine as part of the Moscow-based trial, the RIA news agency cited vaccine developer Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya Institute, as saying on Monday.
Russia is also planning to launch a human trial in Venezuela in the near future. It has announced that Brazil also expects to hold clinical trials, pending regulatory approval.
President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan discussed the start of the UAE trials in a phone call on Monday, the Kremlin said in a statement.