COVID-19 vaccine human trial to begin in Vietnam from Dec 10

COVID-19 vaccine candidates will undergo clinical trials on humans from December 10.

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long (standing) at the meeting with Vietnamese vaccine producers on December 5. Photo: VNA

Vietnam will conduct the first phase of human trials of a locally made COVID-19 vaccine from December 10, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said at a meeting with Vietnamese vaccine producers on December 5, reported VNA.

To date, Vietnamese producers have worked to accelerate the research of COVID-19 vaccines, with Ivac, Vabiotech and Nanogen completing production process at laboratory scale and currently evaluating the vaccines’ safety and immunity in animals. Meanwhile, Nanogen is now ready to pilot the first phase of human trial.

Nanogen will join hands with the Military Medical University to recruit volunteers for the first phase of clinical trial on December 10. The volunteers will be given the first test shots of the vaccine a week later.

The ministry said about 20 volunteers, aged 18-40, are expected to be injected with the vaccine during the first phase.

Long asked agencies to get ready for the second phase of human clinical trials.

The COVID-19 candidates, like all vaccines, essentially aim to instruct the immune system to mount a defense, which is sometimes stronger than what would be provided through natural infection and comes with fewer health consequences.

To do so, some vaccines use the whole coronavirus, but in a killed or weakened state. Others use only part of the virus—whether a protein or a fragment. Some transfer the coronavirus proteins into a different virus that is unlikely to cause disease or even incapable of it. Finally, some vaccines under development rely on deploying pieces of the coronavirus’s genetic material, so our cells can temporarily make the coronavirus proteins needed to stimulate our immune systems.

Before a vaccine could enter clinical trials, it needs to go through pre-clinical development stages like laboratory research and tests on cell, tissue cultures and animal subjects. Source: CNN

At the meeting, experts and vaccine producers discussed progress of vaccine production and challenges during vaccine development, as well as outline solutions for the time ahead.

Stressing the significance of COVID-19 vaccine production, Long said the ministry has promoted domestic research and production while enhancing cooperation with international vaccine developers so as to gain early access to vaccine sources.

He urged local vaccine producers to speed up their work in order to launch human trial soon, and pledged support for the producers, including minimising administrative procedures and facilitating product registration and licensing.

The Ministry of Health will work with competent agencies to help producers get access to capital for vaccine development and production, he added.

“We need to be proactive in all phases in order to be able to get the vaccine as soon as possible,” he said.

The health ministry earlier assessed Nanogen’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate as among the most promising, having been successfully produced it on a laboratory scale and provoking immunogenicity during animal testing.

IVAC and Vabiotech have completed their laboratory-scale production process and are evaluating the safety and immunity of their vaccines on animals.

Long requested vaccine producer Polivac to continue with its research on COVID-19 vaccine, while coordinating with Russia and China to leverage access to vaccine suppliers.

More than 150 coronavirus vaccines are in development across the world.

It can typically take 10 to 15 years to bring a vaccine to market; the fastest-ever—the vaccine for mumps—required four years in the 1960s. Vaccines go through a three-stage clinical trial process before they are sent to regulatory agencies for approval.

Tu Anh