Domestic Covid-19 vaccine yet to make data cut: ministry

By Chi Le   June 22, 2021 | 11:36 pm PT
Domestic Covid-19 vaccine yet to make data cut: ministry
A medical worker prepares a Nanocovax Covid-19 vaccine shot for human trials at the Vietnam Military Medical University in Hanoi, June 11, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
There is not enough scientific evidence to back approval of the domestic Covid-19 vaccine Nanocovax for emergency use, the Ministry of Health said Tuesday.

Nguyen Ngo Quang, deputy head of the Administration of Science Technology and Training under the ministry, said that while the vaccine produced by Nanogen has undergone two phases of clinical trials and showed great immunogenicity, the sample size was still too small to fully establish its protective effects.

Authorities have yet to receive data on how the vaccine could reduce Covid-19 infection rates or its severity. Moreover, experts would also need to evaluate the vaccine's immunogenicity and effectiveness on the 36th, 45th and 56th day following the second shot, he said.

"As such, the Ministry of Health doesn't have enough scientific data and evidence to approve Nanocovax for emergency use at this moment," Quang stressed.

While the ministry always supports businesses to research and develop their own Covid-19 vaccines, they must satisfy standards of safety and effectiveness before they can be approved for emergency use, he added.

On Tuesday, Ho Nhan, chairman of the management board and general director of Nanogen, the Vietnamese company which produces Nanocovax, said it had submitted a proposal for approval of its vaccine for emergency use to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh last week, but had received no response.

Vietnam is currently developing four domestic Covid-19 vaccines: Nanocovax by Nanogen, Covivac by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC) and two other vaccines by the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 (Vabiotech) and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

Of these, Nanocovax is considered to be the most promising candidate, having entered its third phase of human trials with around 13,000 volunteers. Over 1,100 volunteers have been inoculated so far.

Nanogen said its Covid-19 vaccine has a 99.4 percent rate of producing immunogenic responses. Its expected price would be VND120,000 ($5.21) per shot.

Vietnam aims to secure 150 million Covid-19 vaccine doses this year from various sources to cover 70 percent of its population. Its ongoing Covid-19 vaccination campaign has inoculated over 1.5 million people so far using the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The country has approved several Covid-19 vaccines from abroad for emergency use, including Sputnik V by Russia, Pfizer/BioNTech by the U.S. and Sinopharm by China.

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