The United Arab Emirates has launched the world’s first phase III clinical trial of an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, according to an announcement made on Tuesday following an agreement with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm Group.

The clinical trial will focus on Phase III which will study the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in a larger population sample. Should the vaccine be deemed safe and effective throughout the entire clinical trial process, the vaccine will enter into the large-scale manufacturing phase.

“Now more than ever, nations need to work in close partnership between the government and private sectors to create new initiatives, launch programs, develop policies, drive rigorous research, and develop capacity,” said Abdulrahman Mohammed al-Owais, UAE Minister of Health and Prevention.

The latest announcment comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Sunday 183,020 new coronavirus infections and 4,743 deaths due to COVID-19, the highest daily rate so far since the pandmic began.

“It is for this reason that the United Arab Emirates welcomes all contributions by countries of the world, innovative entities, and creative individuals who are committed to creating opportunities for joint collaboration towards confronting the threat of COVID-19 and defeating this global pandemic,” he added.

Sinopharm Group will be working in collaboration with Group 42 (G42), the Abu Dhabi based leading artificial intelligence and cloud computing company. The clinical trial of the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine will be led by G42 under the supervision of the Department of Health of Abu Dhabi.

Authorities working on the clinical trial said they are hoping for the accelerated development of a safe and effective vaccine that could enter the market by the end of 2020 or early 2021.

The race to develop a vaccine that would end the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating as several firms move to clinical trials – but the World Health Organization (WHO) warned earlier in May that it is unlikely we will have a vaccine before the end of 2021.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, were ranked among the top 20 safest countries in the world during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a comprehensive data analysis by Hong Kong-based Deep Knowledge Group.