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Health Minister wants Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine trials speeded up

Maya Taylor

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Health Minister wants Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine trials speeded up | Thaiger
PHOTO: CDC

PHOTO: CDC on Unsplash

Back in the news again, Thailand’s expect-the-unexpected Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, says he wants to see trials of a homegrown Covid-19 vaccine speeded up.

Thai PBS World reports that Anutin wants to cut the current six month development period in half, saying guidelines for vaccine development must be completed in three months if production is set to take approximately eighteen months.

The Government is currently seeking 1.9 trillion baht in loans, with around 45 billion baht expected to be spent on vaccine development, while Anutin says he also wants relevant bodies from the private sectors involved. He adds that Thailand is ready and willing to work with other countries in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“Prior to going into production, a vaccine must go through rigorous testing, first on animals and then on humans, to ensure that it’s both safe and effective.”

See earlier story HERE .

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thai herb studied for alternative Covid-19 treatment

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Thai herb studied for alternative Covid-19 treatment | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Herb "Fah Talai Jone"

A study on the efficacy of a Thai herb for treating Covid-19 will move forward after a trial which alternative medicine officials say had promising results. Although, the trial was basic and only involved 6 people.

Initial results show that the herb “andrographis paniculata,” or “fah talai jone” in Thai, can improve patients’ conditions and relieve symptoms without major side effects.

The second phase of the study aims to confirm whether the herb is efficient and safe in treating the patients alongside standard treatment, according to the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine.

Following the new wave of infections last month, the department teamed up with Samut Prakan Hospital to launch a pilot study, but just on 6 patients. The 6 Covid-19 patients were given 180 grammes of the herb extracts each day. By the third day, their conditions of cough, sore throat, phlegm, runny nose, muscle pain, and headache had gradually improved.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Oxford says Covid-19 vaccine could be ready by September

Jack Burton

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Oxford says Covid-19 vaccine could be ready by September | Thaiger
PHOTO: Dr. Adrian Hill and his team at Oxford's Jenner Institute - CNN

There’s a worldwide race to develop a vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus, and Oxford University in the UK already claim to have a massive head start.

Research teams generally have to start with small clinical trials of a few hundred volunteers to demonstrate safety. But scientists at the Oxford’s Jenner Institute have a jump start on a vaccine, having proved in previous trials that certain inoculations, including one last year against an earlier coronavirus, are harmless to humans.

This has allowed them to leap ahead and schedule tests of their new coronavirus vaccine on more than 6,000 people by the end of May, hoping to show not only that it’s safe, but also that it works.

The Oxford team now say that with an emergency approval from regulators, the first few million doses of their vaccine could be available by September, at least several months ahead of any of the other announced efforts… if it proves to be effective.

Now, they’ve got promising news suggesting it might. Scientists at the US National Institutes of Health last month inoculated six rhesus monkeys with single doses of the Oxford vaccine. The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic: exposure that has consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab. But more than 28 days later, all six remained healthy.

“The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans,” a spokeman said, noting that scientists are still analysing the results. He said he expects to share it with other scientists next week and then submit it to a peer-reviewed journal.

But immunity in monkeys is no guarantee that a vaccine will provide the same degree of protection for humans. A Chinese company that recently started a clinical trial with 144 participants, SinoVac, has also said that its vaccine is effective in rhesus macaques. But with dozens of efforts now underway to find a vaccine, the monkey results are the latest indication that Oxford’s accelerated venture is emerging as the leader.

Emilio Emini, a director of the vaccine program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is providing financial support to many competing efforts, says the Oxford program is “a very, very fast clinical program.”

Which potential vaccine will emerge as the most successful is impossible to know until clinical trial data becomes available.

More than one vaccine would be needed in any case. Some may work more effectively than others in groups like children or older people, or at different costs and dosages. Having more than one variety of vaccine in production will also help avoid bottlenecks in manufacturing, according to Emini.

But as the first to reach such scale, the Oxford trial, even if it fails, will provide lessons about the nature of this coronavirus and about the immune system’s responses that can inform governments, donors, drug companies and others hunting for a vaccine.

“This big UK study is actually going to translate to learning a lot about some of the others as well.”

All of the others will face the same challenges, including obtaining millions of dollars in funding, persuading regulators to approve human tests, demonstrating a vaccine’s safety and after all of that, proving its effectiveness in protecting people from the coronavirus.

Paradoxically, the growing success of efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, may present yet another hurdle.

Professor Adrian Hill, the Jenner Institute’s director and one of five researchers involved in the effort, says that they are the only people in the country who want the number of new infections to stay up for another few weeks, so we can test our vaccine.”

Ethics rules, in general, forbid infecting human test participants with a serious disease. That means the only way to prove that a vaccine works is to inoculate people in a place where the virus is spreading naturally around them.

If social distancing measures or other factors continue to slow the rate of new infections in Britain, he said, the trial might not be able to show that the vaccine makes a difference: Participants who received a placebo might not be infected any more frequently than those who have been given the vaccine. The scientists would have to try again elsewhere, a dilemma that every other vaccine effort will face as well.

SOURCE: New York Times

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand testing experimental Covid-19 vaccine on animals

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Thailand testing experimental Covid-19 vaccine on animals | Thaiger
PHOTO: nationtv.tv

Thailand, as well as the rest of the world, are racing against time to find a viable and safe vaccine for the Covid-19 virus. Thailand’s National Vaccines Institute, along with the science faculties of Mahidol Univesity and Faculty of Pharmacy of Chulalongkorn University, is currently testing a possible candidate for a Covid-19 vaccine on animals.

This is the final stage before completion of the initial laboratory based tests.

Director of the vaccine institute Dr. Nakorn Premsri, says that if the tests on animals show convincing results by creating antibodies, it will be then tested on human beings in three phases.”

“The first phase will be on 30-50 test subjects to verify the candidate vaccine’s safety. Then a second series of tests on 100-150 subjects, to find out whether the candidate vaccine will stimulate the production of the required antibodies. And for the final stage, which will be tested on over 500 subjects, is to determine the efficacy of the candidate vaccine.”

“The US, UK and China have already tested their candidate vaccines on human beings in the first and second phases. Besides developing Thailand’s own vaccine, it is also good to seek technology transfer from other advanced countries.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Sathaporn Phumi-amorn, of the Medical Science Department, says that two tests had been conducted on animals, in Chulalongkorn University’s’ laboratory, and an assessment will be underway to determine the level of antibody production.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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