China gives go-ahead for human trials of potential COVID-19 vaccine
Lab equipment is seen in a laboratory researching a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) - Photo: Bing Guan/REUTERS

China gives go-ahead for human trials of potential COVID-19 vaccine

18/03/2020
13:03
Reuters
Beijing
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China has given the go-ahead for researchers to begin human safety tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the race to develop a shot against the COVID-19 epidemic

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China has given the go-ahead for researchers to begin human safety tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the race to develop a shot against the COVID-19 epidemic that has killed more than 7,000 people worldwide.

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Researchers at China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences—affiliated to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—received approval to launch early-stage clinical trials of the potential vaccine starting this week, the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily reported on Tuesday.

Scientists in the United States said on Monday that clinical trials had begun for a vaccine developed by its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S. biotech firm Moderna.

Details in the Chinese clinical trial registration database show that a “Phase 1” test that will examine whether experimental shot is safe in humans aims to recruit 108 healthy people to take part between March 16 and December 31.

The trial will be conducted by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Biologics, the database showed.

Experts at the World Health Organization say they do not expect any fully tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of next year.

However, countries across the world must take a comprehensive approach to fighting the pandemic of COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus and isolate, test and trace as many cases as possible, the WHO said.

“To suppress and control the epidemic, countries must isolate, test, treat and trace,” the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing.

“If they don’t, transmission chains can continue at a low level and then resurface once physical distancing measures are lifted,” he added. He said the test and trace strategy “must be the backbone of the response in every country”.

Tedros also said that to speed the search for potential therapies and drugs for COVID-19 infection, the WHO and its partners are organizing a multi-country study to analyze and compare some as yet untested treatments.

“This large international study is designed to generate the robust data we need to show which treatments are the most effective,” Tedros said. “We have called this study the solidarity trial.”

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