Manama-In a Bahrain exhibition centre that used to hold jewellery shows and book fairs before the coronavirus pandemic, Mohammed al-Blooshi and other masked volunteers wait for a dose of a Chinese trial vaccine. 

“It is a service to humanity,” says Blooshi, one of thousands in the wealthy Gulf country set to participate in the study.  Chinese drug giant Sinopharm began testing a Covid-19 vaccine in Bahrain in August after starting a similar trial on 15,000 subjects in the nearby United Arab Emirates a month earlier.

The randomised, double-blind trial of 6,000 people is still recruiting healthy men and women as volunteers to test the vaccine’s efficacy and safety in a large cross-section of the population.

The trial is due to finish next July, while the overall study is forecast to be completed by September 2021, according to the US National Library of Medicine. “It’s a very small thing to give back to the country,” Blooshi says, as other volunteers give blood or fill out forms. More than 30 potential vaccines are currently being tested on humans across the globe in the hope of ending a pandemic that has now killed more than 850,000 people, according to an AFP tally. 

Researchers in the Bahrain study will look at how many patients contract the virus after receiving two doses of the vaccine, as well as examine any adverse reactions.

                  Novel coronavirus patients are excluded from the trial, as are pregnant women and those with suppressed immune systems.