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Vietnam may produce own Covid-19 vaccines in third quarter

By Viet Tuan   March 23, 2021 | 12:00 am PT
Vietnam may produce own Covid-19 vaccines in third quarter
A worker holds up a vial of Nanocovax, a domestic Covid-19 vaccine, in a laboratory in HCMC's District 9. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Vietnam expects to start producing its own Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the third quarter, according to the Ministry of Health.

Currently, four Vietnamese vaccines are in development, produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, 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).

Nanocovax by Nanogen entered its second phase of human trials last month, while Covivac began its first phase earlier this month.

Nguyen Ngo Quang, deputy head of the Administration of Science, Technology and Training under the health ministry, said the vaccine development process has been hastened while still abiding by stringent procedures.

Following the first phase of human trials, Nanocovax has succeeded in producing large amounts of antibodies within volunteers and is proven effective against coronavirus variants, Quang said at a Monday meeting by the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control.

At the end of April, a clinical report on the vaccine's second phase of human trials is expected, which Quang described as "very promising."

Nanocovax is expected to enter its third phase of human trials in May. If all goes well, the third phase would complete by the end of the third quarter, three months earlier than scheduled.

Covivac’s pre-clinical report has shown the vaccine has "very good quality," according to the health ministry. Its human trials are expected to be carried out faster than that for Nanocovax.

The Covid-19 vaccine by Vabiotech, expected to begin human trials next month, is also showing great promise. Its edge lies in the fact it utilizes recombinant viral vectors, allowing it to be quickly modified if needed to combat new variants.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently discussing the release of instructions on Covid-19 vaccine trials by comparing them with those already approved, which should prove advantageous for Vietnam’s own third phase human trials, experts told the meeting.

Vietnam rolled out its mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign earlier this month, prioritized for frontline workers in the Covid-19 fight. As of Tuesday, over 36,000 Vietnamese have received their first shots of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca.

The country aims to obtain a total of 150 million vaccine doses this year to cover 70 percent of its population.

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