Vietnam may distribute indigenous Covid-19 vaccine next May

By Le Nga, Chi Le   December 7, 2020 | 12:49 am PT
Vietnam may distribute indigenous Covid-19 vaccine next May
A medical worker handles mouse blood samples for Covid-19 vaccine development at a laboratory in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
A Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine might be distributed in May next year following six months of clinical trials.

Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC would recruit volunteers to enter clinical trials for its Covid-19 vaccine starting Thursday, Ho Nhan, company director, said Monday. Clinical trials would occur over three phases, he said.

In the first phase, Nanogen, in cooperation with Vietnam Military Medical University, would choose 60 volunteers, aged 18-60 and without any underlying condition, infectious diseases or allergies, to undergo human trials. The recruitment process is expected to last a week.

The 60 volunteers would then be split into three smaller groups, each receiving three different vaccine dosages: 25 milligrams, 50 milligrams and 75 milligrams. 20 people would be injected first. The entire first phase is expected to last a month.

In the second phase, 600 volunteers would enter clinical trials, expected to last two to three months. The third phase would soon follow, albeit with an unconfirmed number of volunteers.

"If everything goes well, clinical trials could be completed by April next year and the vaccine distributed starting May," Nhan said.

Volunteers would have to stay at Vietnam Military Medical University in Hanoi for their health to be monitored following injection, according to a representative from the university.

Nanogen said it could produce 30 million Covid-19 vaccine doses a year, with each dose costing around VND100,000 ($4.32). Two shots are required per dose, about half a month apart.

Vietnam currently has four Covid-19 vaccines under development by Nanogen, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 (Vabiotech) and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac).

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by IVAC is expected to enter human trials starting March next year if approved by authorities, said Duong Huu Thai, director of IVAC.

Vabiotech said it would seek approval for human trials in early 2021, said Do Tuan Dat, company president.

Globally, there are 11 vaccines that have entered phase three clinical trials. Before a vaccine can enter clinical trials, it needs to go through pre-clinical development stages like laboratory research and tests on cells, tissue cultures, and animal subjects.

Vietnam has recorded 1,366 Covid-19 cases so far, 108 still active. Thirty five have succumbed to the disease, many being elderly patients with underlying conditions like diabetes or kidney failure.

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