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Vietnam kick-starts human trial of local COVID-19 vaccine

Thursday, December 10, 2020, 12:49 GMT+7
Vietnam kick-starts human trial of local COVID-19 vaccine
Bottles of made-in-Vietnam COVID-19 vaccine Nanocovax developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Made-in-Vietnam COVID-19 vaccine Nanocovax, developed by Ho Chi Minh City-based Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, entered the first of three human trial stages on Thursday morning.

The Vietnam Military Medical University, which is in charge of conducting the tests, will begin selecting volunteers in the next few days and the first doses of the vaccine administered on December 17.

The first phase of the human trial, aimed at evaluating the safety of the vaccine, will require 60 healthy people from 18 to 50 years old, who will be divided into three groups of 20.

Members of the first group will receive doses of 25 mcg, while members of the second and third groups will receive doses of 50 mcg and 75 mcg, respectively.

All volunteers will receive two intramuscular injections of the vaccine, set 28 days apart.

The second phase, aimed at assessing the immunogenicity of Nanocovax, is expected to take place in April 2021 with at least 400 volunteers from 12 to 75 years old.

The final phase will begin in August and require at least 1,500 volunteers from 12 to 75 years old.

Should tests go as planned, the vaccine will be manufactured and made available for local residents in late 2021 or early 2022.

Aside from Nanocovax, two other COVID-19 vaccines are being developed by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals and VABIOTECH, a state-owned firm managed by the Ministry of Health, which are anticipated to begin their human trials in February and March next year.

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed by more than 200 firms across the world, 51 of which begun human trials in early December, according to the health ministry.

Nanocovax is being developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre
Nanocovax is being developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

MoU on COVID-19 vaccine purchase

Vietnam has been negotiating with Russia, China, the United States, and the United Kingdom to have access to their CIVID-19 vaccines when they are made available, according to sources close to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

One memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Southeast Asian country and a foreign vaccine manufacturer, but detailed information regarding this deal is confidential.

Russia has also sent a small amount of vaccine doses to Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense, but clinical tests are still needed in accordance with regulations.

The Ministry of Health has tasked a local unit with working with four Russian partners to purchase more doses of the vaccine, but a final agreement has not been reached.

Cooperation between Vietnamese and Russian vaccine manufactures has also been taken into consideration.

The health ministry has also been negotiating with two U.S. vaccine makers, including Pfizer. 

“Pfizer’s vaccine is 95% effective, but the storage conditions are -75 degrees Celsius, make it difficult to access. However, a Vietnamese firm has invested in cold storages to keep the vaccine at such temperatures,” a representative from the health ministry stated.

Nguyen Minh Hang, deputy head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, told Tuoi Tre that the agency is making a detailed plan on the use and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

International experts have suggested that the vaccine first be given to those at high risk, namely health workers, the elderly, and people with pre-existing diseases.

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