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Phase 3 Trials for Inactivated Coronavirus Vaccine Underway in Abu Dhabi

The latest COVID-19 information and statistics for the Middle East and North Africa

Could the first coronavirus vaccine to make it to market come from the Arabian desert, or is it just a mirage?

Abu Dhabi’s government media office on Thursday said that phase-three clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine are underway in the emirate, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The human trial is the first WHO-listed phase-three trial for an inactivated vaccine.

The trial is a partnership between the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG), Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Group 42 (G42) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, according to the Reuters news agency.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, was the first to participate in the trial. Around 15,000 volunteers over a period of three to six months will be recruited.

Other coronavirus news from around the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region:


Jordan on Thursday said it will reopen Queen Alia International Airport, the country’s main airport located in Zizya, 30 kilometers south of the capital Amman, to a limited number of foreign visitors next month.

Government spokesman Amjad Adailah told state-owned Al Mamlaka TV that flights from 10 countries in Europe and Asia deemed “low-risk” for coronavirus would be allowed to land starting in August.

United Arab Emirates

Residents returning to the United Arab Emirates will face a 50,000 dirham ($13,600) fine if they do not comply with quarantine guidelines.

Dubai already reopened to international visitors [1] earlier this month while Emirates, Etihad, AirArabia and flydubai plan to resume operations to more than 60 destinations from August 1.


Iraq’s Interior Ministry on Tuesday announced that nightclubs in the capital Baghdad would be closed as part of efforts to contain the novel coronavirus. Casinos, gambling halls and alcoholic beverage outlets in hotels and lounges were also to be shuttered.


Meeting overnight between Thursday and Friday, the Israeli cabinet approved new weekend restrictions to contain the latest outbreak. They limit indoor social gatherings to 10 (aside from events for the immediate family), and outdoor gatherings to 20.

All places of commerce save for supermarkets and pharmacies must shut down on Fridays at 5 p.m., reopening on Sunday morning. The same goes for places like libraries, museums and tourist sites. Beaches will be closed on weekends starting July 24. One news report said a proposal for a complete nationwide lockdown on weekends, including on movement, had been tabled due to legal hurdles.

Palestinian Authority

Coronavirus cases and deaths in the West Bank continue to rise.

On Thursday, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry reported three new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number in the territory to 50. The Health Ministry also reported 463 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 8,616, with 1,487 recoveries.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia on Thursday continued to see a drop in the number of infected people still receiving treatment, with 2,206 patients in critical condition out of 53,246 active cases.

The kingdom’s Health Ministry on Thursday announced 2,764 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections there to 243,238. The ministry also reported 45 new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,370.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 5 p.m. UTC on Thursday:

CountryConfirmed casesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories8,616501,4877,079
Saudi Arabia243,2382,370187,62253,246
United Arab Emirates55,84833546,4189,095