Three vaccine candidates approved for trials

  • China
  • Thursday, 16 Apr 2020

BEIJING: China has approved three Covid-19 vaccine candidates for clinical trials, said an official with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

An adenovirus vector vaccine, developed by a research team led by Chen Wei, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a researcher at the Institute of Military Medicine under the Academy of Military Sciences, was the first to be approved for clinical trials, said Wu Yuanbin, director-general of science and technology for social development with MOST, at a press conference on Tuesday.

The first phase of the clinical trial was completed at the end of March and the second phase started last Sunday.

It is the first Covid-19 vaccine in the world to enter the second phase of clinical trials, according to the World Health Organisation.

Compared with the first phase, the second phase removed the age ceiling to enroll volunteers over 60.

As the elderly make up a high percentage of severely ill Covid-19 patients, the vaccine should build a safety shield for them, Chen said.

Taking the modified defective adenovirus as the vector, the vaccine carries the gene of the coronavirus spike protein, the major surface protein used by the virus to bind to a receptor to invade cells, so that the subject’s body will produce an immunological memory of the protein.

When the real coronavirus attacks, the body will identify its spike protein and stop its invasion, according to Chen.

The 108 volunteers who completed the first phase of the clinical trial on March 27 have ended centralised medical observation and are in good condition.

The second phase will recruit 500 volunteers and introduce the placebo control group to further evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of the vaccine. As of Monday, 273 volunteers had been vaccinated.

An inactivated vaccine candidate developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products under the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences was approved for clinical trials on Sunday, Wu said.

Another inactivated vaccine candidate developed by Beijing-bsed Sinovac Research and Development Co Ltd was approved on Sunday, he added. — Xinhua

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