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Vietnam tests COVID-19 vaccine on mice

Monday, May 04, 2020, 14:52 GMT+7
Vietnam tests COVID-19 vaccine on mice
A technician tests product quality at a facility of VABIOTECH in Hanoi, Vietnam in this undated photo. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

An experimental vaccine jointly produced by a group of scientists from Vietnam and Britain for protection against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19 has been tested on mice, the Vietnamese side has said.

Vietnam’s Company for Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 (VABIOTECH), a state-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Health, has joined around 70-80 vaccine developers in the world to reach the testing stage for a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to VABIOTECH’s chairman Do Tuan Dat, its scientists and their colleagues from the UK’s Bristol University have been working on the jab since the very first COVID-19 infection case was confirmed in Vietnam.

The company’s scientists have succeeded in generating a strain carrying SARS-CoV-2 antigens in the laboratory, which is considered the most important ingredient in vaccine production, Dat said.

He said the vaccine has been tested on mice, after which stage blood samples from the animal will be sent to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) for evaluation.

“If the COVID-19 vaccine receives positive evaluation [from NIHE], it will continue to be studied and tested on other animals and groups of volunteers to further assessment of its safety and effectiveness,” Dat said.

A vaccine is considered the most effective way to fight against a viral disease. 

Most experts estimate it will take at least 12-18 months to develop a COVID-19 vaccine which is safe for humans. 

To date, eight coronavirus vaccine trials have been carried out on animals and humans in parallel by eight different manufacturers in the world, according to Dat.

“This is a fast, new way but also contains ‘risky’ elements,” Dat said, adding that VABIOTECH is observing these eight companies to consider whether to follow in their footsteps.

In the past, Vietnamese scientists also studied and developed a number of effective vaccines, including the polio vaccine, the oral cholera vaccine, and the H5N1 bird flu vaccine.      

Vietnam has so far reported 271 COVID-19 infections, with the latest patient being an imported case from the UK.

Only 52 patients remain in treatment, including 14 relapses, while 219 have recovered.

There has been no death caused by the disease in the country.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 deaths rose to 28,446 in the UK as of May 2 as it reported 186,599 infections, according to a Reuters tally.

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