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First Thai Covid-19 vaccine proceeds to human trials

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PHOTO: Flickr/Vincent Vega

Thailand’s first Covid-19 vaccine has begun human trials, after trials on monkeys and rats showed a high success rate in preventing transmission of the virus. Thai PBS World reports that researchers began human trials yesterday. The vaccine has been developed by the Chula Vaccine Research Centre at Chulalongkorn University and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok.

If successful, the “ChulaCov19” vaccine will be the second Covid-19 vaccine to be manufactured in Thailand, in addition to the locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccine. ChulaCov19 is an mRNA vaccine, similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The vaccines work by instructing human cells to make a “spike protein” to trigger an immune response to Covid-19.

The first stage of human trials for the ChulaCov19 vaccine involve healthy volunteers, who are participating under medical supervision at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital. Hospital director, Suttipong Wacharasindhu, says the first stage involves 72 people, with half between the ages of 18 and 55, and the other half aged 65 – 75. Some participants will receive a dose of 10 micrograms, while others will get between 25mcg and 50mcg, as researchers work to determine the optimum dosage.

Subject to results from phase 1 proving satisfactory, phase 2 kicks off in August and will involve between 150 and 300 volunteers. If both phases show high levels of efficacy and safety, Suttipong says phase 3 can be skipped and ChulaCov19 could go into mass production before the middle of next year.

According to the Thai PBS World report, the vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures of 2 – 8°C for up to 3 months and lasts for 2 weeks at room temperature. It’s understood Thai researchers working on the vaccine have had support from Drew Weissman of Pennsylvania University, who was instrumental in developing the RNA technology that led to the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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