Thailand starts human trials of local Covid vaccine

Thailand is beginning human trials on its locally-developed Covid-19 vaccine, while setting its sights for a rollout of the vaccine next year. While the process seems sluggish compared to other vaccines, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says the development would enable Thailand to be self-reliant as the country would not have to rely on vaccines from other nations.

“Production is expected to begin next year, with an estimated 25-30 million doses annually.”

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation has developed a pilot NDV-HXP-S vaccine by teaming up with Mahidol University’s Tropical Medicine Department, the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health, an American non-profit organisation, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. The vaccine consists of a inactivated virus to trigger immunity, using egg-based technology. So far, the GPO says trials have shown promising results.

“Even though we can produce vaccines in the country, it is from technology transfer and under management of the owners of the brands and technology. But today, if we are successful we can be self-reliant and determine our own direction.”

A total of 460 volunteers would be recruited for the human trials. They must be in good health and free of Covid-19. Volunteers will be screened and have their backgrounds checked and undergo health and blood checks.

Punnee Pitisuttithum, the head of the Vaccine Trial Centre at Mahidol University’s Tropical Medicine Department, said that the first human trial was conducted on 4 volunteers yeterday. Banchong Mahaisavariya, president of Mahidol University, said the first and second phases of human trials will test the safety of the vaccine and its ability to trigger immunity.

The GPO is aware of SARS-CoV-2 virus mutations so the vaccine is also being developed to help with this situation, adding that the pilot vaccine showed it was effective against the South African strain.

Chulalongkorn University is also developing its own vaccine, which uses Messenger RNA technology with human trials expected to begin soon.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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