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COVID-19 vaccine development ahead of schedule in Vietnam

Friday, July 03, 2020, 20:00 GMT+7
COVID-19 vaccine development ahead of schedule in Vietnam
Researchers at VABIOTECH develop a vaccine for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a laboratory in Vietnam. Photo: Lan Anh / Tuoi Tre

The development of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Vietnam is currently two months ahead of schedule and is expected to complete in nine to twelve months.

A group of scientists from the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) and VABIOTECH, a state-owned firm managed by the Ministry of Health, officially introduced their COVID-19 vaccine to the press on Wednesday.

The research and development process has showed positive signs and is two months ahead of time during the first phase, said Do Tuan Dat, director of VABIOTECH.

The vaccine has been tested on eight groups of mice, of which four have been confirmed by the NIHE to have developed antibody response, Dat elaborated.

“It will take us another nine to twelve months to finish producing the vaccine, but we are trying to speed up the process,” the director said.

The development of the vaccine began with two VABIOTECH researchers studying new vaccine production technologies at the University of Bristol in the UK.

“We were able to return to Vietnam right before the country stopped welcoming international arrivals in late March. We spent 14 days in quarantine and another month developing the vaccine at an isolated facility,” said Mac Van Trong, one of the two VABIOTECH researchers.

The scientists developed the vaccine using viral vectors, a new and versatile technology that is suitable in the context of an ongoing pandemic and promises high production efficiency, Trong stated.

According to Prof. Dang Duc Anh, head of the NIHE, China and other countries have progressed to the second stage of their vaccine development, which is human trial.

Vietnam will be ready to test its homemade vaccine on humans after another round of animal testing in four to nine months.

The world’s first COVID-19 vaccine may be released in about six months, while it will take longer for the Vietnam-made vaccine to be ready, Prof. Anh stated.

However, the country’s primary goal is to develop a complete and stable vaccine that is safe and effective for human use, according to Dat, the VABIOTECH director.

The research team will also develop a commercial production line that is capable of producing up to millions or even tens of millions of doses.

This drive will boost Vietnam’s vaccine production capability, especially in response to future pandemics, Dat added.

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