Bahrain's vaccine trials target raised

The initial 6,000 volunteer-strong trials were going ‘very smoothly’.

  
Small toy figures are seen in front of a Covid-19 Vaccine logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020.

Small toy figures are seen in front of a Covid-19 Vaccine logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The target number of volunteers for phase three clinical trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in the country has been increased by 1,700, it was confirmed yesterday.

The new development was officially announced by National Taskforce for Combating Coronavirus (Covid-19) monitoring committee head Lieutenant Colonel Dr Manaf Al Qahtani at a Press conference.

It follows the Health Ministry’s keenness to increase the number of volunteers after achieving its target of 6,000 participants in randomised trials of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 potential vaccine, as reported in last night’s GDN.

The initiative was launched in the kingdom on August 10 under the campaign “#4 Humanity”.

Responding to questions by the GDN, Dr Al Qahtani said that 66 per cent of the volunteers had received the vaccine.

The GDN earlier explained how randomised trial rules meant the chance of a volunteer getting the trial vaccine was two thirds, with one third receiving a placebo.

“The target (of volunteers) has been 6,000 which has been achieved, and we have been asked by the organisers to increase the number,” Dr Al Qahtani told the GDN. “This is because of what they have seen – the credibility and efficiency with which Bahrain has organised the trials.

“Increasing the number of clinical trial volunteers will lead to achieving the desired goal … to reach the vaccine faster … so we have approved the request and from today (Wednesday) we are seeking an extra 1,700 volunteers.

“I invite everyone who did not have a chance to participate earlier to step forward.”

He added that the initial 6,000 volunteer-strong trials were going ‘very smoothly’. “The medical team is following up with them and the organisers, Sinopharm. The vaccine is developed by Sinopharm CNBG, the world’s sixth largest producer of vaccines.

“We have 66pc of the total receiving the vaccine, so the more volunteers we attract, the more we will be able to provide information which is critical in any clinical trial.

“We achieved our target of 6,000 in six weeks and we thank all the volunteers. They have left an imprint in the field of medical research, contributing to its continuous development and improvement for the sake of mankind.”

Dr Al Qahtani also praised the participation of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, in volunteering for the trial, describing it as ‘inspirational’.

He also thanked volunteers taking part in the third phase of the clinical trials in neighbouring UAE, and the Chinese people who participated in the second phase.

Anyone aged 18 and above who wishes to volunteer can go to the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre (hall 4) between 8am and 8pm.

Dr Al Qahtani also renewed his calls to those who had recovered from the virus to donate plasma for the convalescent plasma therapy, one of the treatments used to help the sick.

The GDN reported earlier that Bahrain completed a clinical trial of plasma therapy on 40 patients, and the results were being analysed by experts.

The country initiated the treatment in April which entails taking antibody-rich plasma donated by recovered Covid-19 patients and injecting it into patients who are severely suffering from the illness.

raji@gdn.com.bh

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