Dec 9, 2020 - Health

UAE says Chinese coronavirus vaccine is 86% effective after trial

Vaccine under Chinese flag

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The United Arab Emirates said Wednesday that the coronavirus vaccine developed by China's state-owned Sinopharm appears to be safe and 86% effective, according to an interim analysis of the company's Phase III trials.

Why it matters: It's the first public release of information about one of the main Chinese-developed COVID-19 vaccines, which was tested in the UAE in a trial involving 31,000 volunteers from 125 countries that began in September.

  • The Emirati statement contained few details, only noting that the announcement is "a significant vote of confidence by the UAE’s health authorities in the safety and efficacy of this vaccine."
  • The vaccine has already been granted an emergency use authorization in the UAE, which has consistently been reporting over 1,000 new cases per day since the start of November. Over 500 deaths have been reported in total.

The big picture: There's a lot at stake for China, which has invested heavily in scientific research and development over the past two decades and is aiming to become a scientific powerhouse on the global stage.

  • The Chinese government was heavily criticized during the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan for a lack of health transparency, which can affect the perception of science at home and abroad — including in the vaccine race.
  • Of the more than 200 COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world, 20 involve teams in China, per the Milken Institute.

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