UAE approves COVID-19 vaccine for health workers.

The UAE on Monday granted emergency approval for health workers to use a COVID-19 vaccine currently in its third phase of testing. Health minister Abdulrahman Al-Owais said the vaccine would be available for “first-line-of-defense heroes, who are most at risk of catching COVID-19, protecting them from any danger that they may be exposed to due to the nature of their work.”

He added: “This emergency use of the vaccine is fully and completely compatible with the regulations and laws that allow a faster review of licensing procedures.” The vaccine is one of 26 in the world that have reached the human trials stage.

It was developed by China-based pharmaceutical company Sinopharmin. The UAE was chosen for the third phase of human testing, with the trial starting in July in conjunction with Abu Dhabi-based company G42 Healthcare and the Abu Dhabi government.

Al-Owais said the results from final stages of the third phase trials “showed that the vaccine is safe, effective and resulted in a strong response through the generation of antibodies against the virus.” He added: “These steps are taken with the goal of preserving the lives of millions of people and providing health care for the infected.”

Dr. Nawal Al-Kaabi, head of the National Clinical Committee for Coronavirus, said some 31,000 volunteers, including 125 nationalities, had taken part in the clinical trials. He said only mild side effects have been reported so far as expected with any vaccine. No one has encountered any severe side effects.

The announcement comes amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases in the UAE, which reported 1,007 cases on Saturday, its highest since the start of the pandemic. There were 777 new cases on Monday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, inactivated vaccines — made with either inactivated (killed) viruses or with a protein from the virus — are well known and have been used against diseases such as influenza and measles. Russia in August become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a coronavirus vaccine, after less than two months of human testing. 

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