Vietnam targets human trials of Covid-19 vaccine this year

By Le Nga   July 23, 2020 | 08:04 am GMT+7
Vietnam targets human trials of Covid-19 vaccine this year
A scientist checks a mouse tested with a Vietnam's Covid-19 vaccine candidate at a lab in Hanoi, July 1, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Local labs are working hard to get a Covid-19 vaccine ready for human clinical trials at the end of this year, months earlier than previously planned.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said at a workshop Wednesday that manufacturing vaccines is a priority for all countries, research institutes and pharmaceutical manufacturers hoping to prevent and control the disease.

"Without a vaccine, it would be hard for life to resume to normal. This is a big challenge for the world and all humanity," he said.

"Vietnam needs to find a vaccine that can be ready for human clinical trials by the end of this year," he said.

Long said the Covid-19 vaccines produced by four Vietnamese units – Vaccine and Biological Production No. 1 (VABIOTECH), the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (POLYVAC), the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), and Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology – have shown positive initial results.

The end-of-year deadline is a harder step on the accelerator, with VABIOTECH having said earlier this month that it was trying to shorten research and production so the vaccine would be completed by October next year.

Nguyen Ngo Quang, deputy director of the Health Ministry's department of science, technology and training, said that Vietnam was drafting a decree to accelerate the appraisal and licensing processes of the Covid-19 vaccine.

"Vietnam aims to have a Covid-19 vaccine by 2021," Quang said.

The ministry said it will shorten the processing time for research production, accreditation, clinical trials, licensing for circulation and tracking methods.

Specifically, the documentation and time for monitoring and testing procedures will be shortened; and multiple stages can happen at the same time. For instance, researchers can move to the second phase even as they are monitoring results of the first phase during the clinical trials stage.

"Despite the shortening of the processing time, the quality of the vaccine must still be guaranteed. There must be scientific evidence and adherence to biomedical research ethics," Quang said.

One potential vaccine was first tested on 50 mice in May, though the project had only 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.

Meanwhile, IVAC has been using chicken embryo development technology for its vaccine research. It has produced a flu vaccine earlier with this method, and is now applying the same to produce Covid-19 vaccines.

Testing on mice is an important step in preparing vaccines for human trial, where researchers look for an immune response after administration, Dat said.

Vietnam is one of 42 countries that can produce its own vaccines for their extended vaccination program and is also one of 38 countries that have a vaccine management agency meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

There were a total of 163 potential Covid-19 vaccines under development globally, as of last Wednesday. In particular, 23 vaccines are in the human clinical trial phase and 140, including vaccines from Vietnam, in the preclinical stage.

Earlier this month, Russian scientists said their first clinical trial proved to be safe and that volunteers had developed an immune response. Russia hopes to start its final stage testing in a small section of the general public in mid-August.

Three vaccines developed by China's CanSino Biologics, the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical Company and American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer with German BioNTech have showed positive results, yielding high immunogenicity to the novel coronavirus strain, it has been reported.

The vaccine produced by Oxford University and AstraZeneca could be rolled out by the end of 2020, the reports have said.

Vietnam had recorded 401 Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday morning, most of them imported. There has been no community transmission of the novel coronavirus reported for more than three months now.

 
 
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