Vietnam readies for Covid-19 vaccine trial

By Chi Le   December 16, 2020 | 12:17 am PT
Vietnam readies for Covid-19 vaccine trial
Employees of Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC work in a molecular biology room to produce made-in-Vietnam vaccine to be tested on human, December 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Vietnam will select 60 among 200 volunteers to be injected with Nanocovax, the first made-in-Vietnam Covid-19 vaccine approved for human trials, from Thursday.

Nguyen Ngo Quang, deputy head of the Administration of Science, Technology and Training under the Ministry of Health, confirmed around 200 people had signed up within a week to be vaccinated with Nanocovax, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC.

Vietnam Military Medical Academy, as part of first phase trials, will oversee administration of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The academy is racing against time to screen volunteers eligible for the first human trial stage. Selected candidates are between 18 and 50 of age.

They will receive two intramuscular injections of the vaccine or a placebo, with an interval of 28 days between each jab. Each volunteer will have their health monitored for 56 days to assess the efficiency of the vaccine and continue to be observed for sixth months following administration.

Do Minh Sy, Nanogen's director for research and development, said all risks and variables have been calculated, with medical staff from 103 Military Hospital and the Vietnam National Institute of Burns on standby.

Nanogen has contracted an insurance company to cover the volunteers, with certain banks agreeing to compensate those who fail to obtain coverage with up to VND20 billion ($863,290), he added.

Nanocovax is expected to be priced at VND120,000 ($5.17) per dose.

The company representative said the vaccine would be reasonably priced and affordable to all Vietnamese, and hopefully included among drugs covered by health insurance.

Nanocovax is scheduled to enter mass production in May 2021.

Vietnam currently has four Covid-19 vaccines under development, by Nanogen, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), the 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. Vabiotech said it would seek approval for human trials in early 2021.

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

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