Vietnam Covid-19 vaccine to be tested on humans next year

By Chi Le   July 2, 2020 | 08:00 am GMT+7
Vietnam Covid-19 vaccine to be tested on humans next year
A mouse, which is a test subject for a Covid-19 vaccine made by Vietnam, has its blood sample taken in a Vabiotech lab, July 1, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

Vietnam’s trial Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be ready in October next year after human trials, the chairman of a state-owned pharmaceutical firm said Wednesday.

Development of the vaccine has shown "very positive progress," said Do Tuan Dat, director of developer Vaccine and Biological Production No. 1 (Vabiotech). Last week, the vaccine had proven highly immunogenic when tested on 50 mice based on analyses of their serum samples.

Testing on mice is an important step in preparing vaccines for human trials, where researchers would be looking for an immune response after administration, Dat said.

It would normally take three to five years to produce a good trial vaccine, and five to 10 years to complete. But research and production of the Covid-19 vaccine might be shortened, said Dat.

"Maybe in another 9-12 months there would be a vaccine qualified to be tested on humans."

To boost vaccine development, two Vabiotech employees traveled to the U.K. for research purposes from February to March. Their greatest challenge was to create the most stable antigens suitable to trigger an immune response in humans, Dat said.

To ensure vaccine quality while boosting development, he said methods of shortening research and production are related to documents and licensing procedures, not the vaccine’s actual research and production progress. The firm is also waiting on global research results and the effectiveness of other vaccine candidates to learn and apply lessons to Vietnam’s own efforts.

The exact time for Vietnam’s Covid-19 vaccine to go public has not been determined, it was confirmed.

"I used to believe the vaccine would be completed in six months. The government also wishes for development to hasten out of worry there might be new Covid-19 outbreaks during winter, but nothing is for sure as there are a lot of issues in vaccine production."

Dat said the firm is trying to shorten research and production so the vaccine would be completed in October next year. Researchers are also working on the vaccine so it could be immunogenic after two doses.

The potential vaccine was first tested on 50 mice in May, though the project had commenced in February. Success in producing antibody responses in mice has moved the project's first phase forward by two months, said Mac Van Trong, a member of the Vabiotech research team.

The project was funded VND8 billion ($345,216), including sponsorship from conglomerate Vingroup.

Hundreds of Covid-19 vaccine development projects are being carried out worldwide, with over a dozen vaccines being tested on humans.

Vietnam has recorded 355 Covid-19 infectionss so far, with 20 active cases left and no deaths. No community transmission has been recorded in over two months.

 
 
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