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Saudi Arabia will begin phase three of the coronavirus vaccine clinical trial in cooperation with Chinese vaccine development company CanSino, the Ministry of Health said on Saturday. The trial targets 5,000 healthy volunteers aged over 18 in Saudi Arabia and the ministry is currently working to launch operations in three major cities: Riyadh, Dammam and Makkah.
The participants will be divided into two groups, the first will be given low doses of the vaccine, and the second group or the control group, will be given a placebo, which has no active ingredients. The new initiative comes as part of a cooperation with the World Health Organisation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry said. The first and second phases of the Ad5-nCOV potential vaccine clinical trial were performed in China. The two phases showed the vaccine was highly effective, with the appearance of antibodies to the virus in the volunteers’ plasma and a good immune response, while the side effects were very few, especially with the low doses. The results of the two studies have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal The Lancet. The first phase conducted between 16-27 March included 108 volunteers, and the second phase conducted between 11-16 April involved 603 volunteers.
CanSino’s vaccine uses a modified common cold virus to carry genetic material from the coronavirus into the human body. It elicits antibody and T-cell immune responses and does not prompt any serious side effects.