When the UAE announced that it will be conducting the world’s first-ever Phase III inactivated vaccine trials in mid-July, the news brought hope to the country as this is the final step to test the vaccine’s efficacy and safety before it’s provided for the masses.
I signed up to be part of the 15,000 volunteers for the program through 4humanity.ae last July 16. Here’s my 21-day journey so far with the UAE’s inactivated vaccine trials developed by Sinopharm CNBG, approved by the UAE’s Ministry of Health.
I first received got a message to undergo a swab test for COVID-19 on July 19. When my results came in negative, I received a text message scheduling me for the actual vaccine trial days after.
When I arrived at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Center last July 23, I was the only Filipino alongside several Emirati volunteers. There, the doctors and nurses took vitals while explaining the entire volunteer journey. They also did a thorough medical history probe to ensure that all volunteers are healthy prior to vaccination.
Once the medical check-up is done, you will be asked to read and sign a consent form that will cover all points regarding the UAE’s COVID-19 inactivated vaccine clinical trials. The research study was also reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of the UAE’s Ministry of Health, and has passed the Chinese Food and Drug Administration’s study phases where the vaccine was initially developed.
They will then take blood samples from the volunteer before the actual vaccination takes place. The actual vaccination process only takes minutes, and afterwards, the volunteer will be taken to an observation area to check for any immediate effects of the vaccine. The day that the volunteer gets her/his first dose is counted as ‘Day 0’.
From thereon, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company will be constantly in contact with the volunteer for telemedicine and will also request for a minimum of two face to face medical check ups to discern the effects of the vaccine.
The medical team warned that possible side effects include flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle pains, tiredness; respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, sore through, cough, and local skin symptoms such as pain, redness, and rashes.
I’m glad to share that I did not feel any side effects at all during the initial dose, apart from the slight pain from the injection. I managed to continue with my daily activities and duties at work afterwards.
It was only during this time when I told people close to my heart that I have joined the UAE’s call for volunteers for the vaccination program. They all expressed their worries, but I have all the trust that the UAE will take care of all 15,000 volunteers under their wing in their aim to find a safe and trusted vaccine against COVID-19.
The volunteer will repeat the entire process for the second dose – from the medical check ups, signing of new consent forms, COVID-19 swab test, minus the blood extractions. Only then will the volunteer be administered the second shot of the vaccine.
On August 13, I received the second dose of the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine. Thankfully, I experienced no side effects from the vaccine so far.
UAE’s inactivated COVID-19 clinical trials administers either a vaccine or a placebo for the studies. The ratio of the vaccines to the placebo is 2:1, meaning these studies will comprise of individuals who received the vaccine forming 66.6% of the study or around 10,000 individuals, while the rest will be administered with a placebo.
All volunteers will be monitored up to 12 months from the date of the first vaccination through telemedicine and face-to-face visits.
Today, the UAE has allowed volunteers like myself to travel in and out of Abu Dhabi without having to undergo COVID-19 tests. At the Al Hosn App, my current status already shows a gold star – signifying that I am already among those who have successfully been administered the second dose.
My COVID-19 vaccine journey has just begun, but I hope that this helps the UAE to find a viable vaccine. One of the biggest reasons why I chose to participate is my wish to help our home country, the Philippines to see if this vaccine works through the ongoing trials, as the world comes together to flatten the COVID-19 curve for everyone to return towards our normal lives.