A Chinese research firm attached to the military has become the 1st organization to enter the 2nd clinical-trial stage in the global race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus infection, which has claimed nearly 121,000 lives across the world so far.
China has approved 3 COVID-19 vaccine submissions for clinical trials, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a Ministry of Science and Technology official as saying on Tuesday.
An adenovirus vector vaccine, developed by a research team led by Major General Chen Wei of the Institute of Military Medicine under the Academy of Military Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army, was the 1st to be approved to enter a clinical trial.
The 1st phase of the clinical trial was completed at the end of March, and the 2nd phase started on 12th April.
It is the 1st COVID-19 vaccine in the world that has entered the 2nd phase of a clinical trial, the Xinhua report quoting the World Health Organization as saying.
The vaccine developed by the Institute of Biotechnology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences of China, entered Phase II of a human clinical trial with 500 volunteer participants on Sunday.
The eldest volunteer is an 84-year-old Wuhan resident, Xiong Zhengxing, who completed the vaccination on Monday morning.
The vaccine is developed by genetic engineering methods and is used to prevent diseases caused by novel coronavirus infections, state-run China Daily reported on Monday.
The 1st phase of the vaccine clinical trial focused on its safety, while the 2nd phase weighs more on its effectiveness. Unlike the 1st phase, the 2nd phase recruited more participants and introduced a placebo control group.
Volunteer recruitment for the vaccine began on Thursday. It is China’s 1st candidate for the virus that entered clinical human testing. The Phase I trial was conducted in March.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, many other Chinese institutes are also stepping up efforts to develop vaccines for the deadly disease that has killed over 121,000 people and infected 1,946,000 across the globe.
To counter COVID-19, China has increased the process to finalize vaccines after Kaiser Permanente’s research facility in Seattle and Washington stole the march and began human trials.
On Monday, the WHO said a safe and effective vaccine would be needed to fully halt the spread of COVID-19.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from Geneva, “Our global connectedness means the risk of re-introduction and resurgence of COVID-19 will continue,” and stressed that “ultimately, the development and release of a safe and effective vaccine will be needed to fully interrupt transmission.”
To develop the vaccine, there is a global race. India’s Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech lab are also developing vaccines besides firms in Australia and the UK.
There are no effective drugs for the deadly disease right now although several candidate drugs are in clinical trials.
Scientists say China may have a head start on the development of the vaccine as it was the 1st to map out the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus after it surfaced in Wuhan city in December last year.
China subsequently shared the genome sequence with the WHO, the USA, and other countries, setting off the race to develop the vaccine.