Thailand plans November human trial for potential COVID-19 vaccine

BANGKOK (CNA) – Thai researchers plan to begin human trials of a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus in November and are preparing 10,000 doses, a senior official said yesterday, aiming for a vaccine that could be ready for use by late next year.

Following favourable results in trials on primates, the next step is to manufacture doses for human trials, said Director of the Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University vaccine development programme Kiat Ruxrungtham.

“At first we were going to send them in June, but it was not easy to plan everything,” Kiat told a news conference.

There are no approved vaccines for the virus that causes COVID-19, but 19 candidates are being drawn for human trials globally. China is leading the race, with an experimental vaccine by Sinovac Biotech.

Thailand’s first facility should complete production in October and send the products to a second facility, which should finish by November, he said. Originally the earliest target was September, but Kiat said not enough vaccine can be ready by then.

Facilities in San Diego and Vancouver will produce 10,000 doses for the trials for 5,000 people. The first group, aged 18 to 60, will receive different doses of the vaccine, he said.

The trials will not accept volunteers “until we receive approval from the Thai Food and Drug Administration and an ethics committee”, Kiat said.

Thai company BioNet-Asia is preparing its facilities for large-scale manufacturing if the trials prove successful, he said.

“If everything goes according to plan, the vaccine will be ready for Thailand in the third or fourth quarter next year,” Kiat said.

Thailand yesterday had a total of 3,217 confirmed infections, with no local transmissions reported in over a month, and 58 COVID-19 deaths.

Students talk with each other with a plastic sheet separating them at a school in Bangkok, Thailand. PHOTO: XINHUA