China begins Phase I trial of Covid-19 vaccine

23rd March 2020 (Last Updated March 23rd, 2020 12:00)

China has commenced a Phase I clinical trial of a vaccine against Covid-19, the infection caused by the novel coronavirus that is so far responsible for 341,700 infections and 14,750 deaths globally.

China begins Phase I trial of Covid-19 vaccine
Chinese Ministry of Education has called upon universities, scientific research institutions and related enterprises to speed up research on the Covid-19 vaccine. Credit: Kendal on Unsplash.

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China has commenced a Phase I clinical trial of a vaccine against Covid-19, the infection caused by the novel coronavirus that is so far responsible for 341,700 infections and 14,750 deaths globally.

According to Chinese media, a staff member associated with the government-funded project said that participants in the trial are already being vaccinated.

The trial is designed to enrol 108 volunteers aged 18-60 years who are residents of Wuhan, the city where the virus originated. Participants will be divided into three groups and administered with different dosages.

The experimental candidate is a recombination vaccine developed by biotechnology company CanSino Biologics in alliance with a research team from the PLA Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

Last week, CanSino Biologics received regulatory approval to conduct a Phase I trial of its recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine (adenovirus type 5 vector) candidate.

Global Times reported that participants will not be infected with the novel coronavirus following the vaccination in the Phase I trial.

The aim is to investigate whether the vaccine will trigger antibody generation and make participants immune to the new coronavirus.

Trial investigators will quarantine volunteers for 14 days and follow them for six months to monitor any adverse reactions.

The Covid-19 vaccine trial in China follows the first trial launched in the US at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle.

Funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the trial is evaluating Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate.

Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir is currently in the final stages of clinical trials in Asia. Researchers in China reported an encouraging profile for the drug in treating Covid-19 coronavirus infection.

However, further randomised trials are to be conducted to validate remdesivir’s effectiveness.