Human trials begin in the Middle East

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Russia has announced that human trials of its controversial coronavirus vaccine have started in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).The Kremlin said on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone interview with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

During the call, “the importance of joint efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus was noted, including the interaction on the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, which is currently being clinically tested in the UAE,” the Kremlin said in a press release. He added that the leaders also “reaffirmed their mutual readiness to further strengthen the Russian-Emirate strategic partnership in various fields.”

The United Arab Emirates is the second foreign country to test Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine – named with a nod to the Cold War space race – after testing in Belarus, Reuters reported on Monday. Further testing is expected to begin in Venezuela, another Russian ally.

Nevertheless, the Russian vaccine is controversial, with experts around the world questioning its effectiveness and safety.

The Russian Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology Gamaleya, which developed the vaccine, has yet to share additional research and data on the first clinical trials testing the vaccine, the Moscow Times reported last week. It comes despite calls by scientists wary of the data published in the medical journal The Lancet in September.

Russian officials said claims his vaccine was not effective amounted to an “information war” and reflected Western prejudices against the country. The vaccine received regulatory approval in August, making Russia the first country in the world to reach this stage.

Russia had already announced on its website dedicated to the vaccine that several countries, including the United Arab Emirates as well as the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and “possibly India and Brazil”, would participate in “post clinical trials. “registration” of the vaccine. Its mass production was slated to start in September 2020, but it is unclear whether or not that started.

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