Second Việt Nam-produced COVID-19 vaccine to enter human trials this month

The COVID-19 vaccine – COVIVAC- developed by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVMC) based in the central province of Khánh Hoà will be trialled on humans this month. (Photo courtesy/ laodong.vn)

HÀ NỘI  – A second Việt Nam-produced COVID-19 vaccine will soon begin human trials, two months ahead of schedule.

COVIVAC has been developed by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVMC) based in the central province of Khánh Hoà.

Volunteers will begin trials this month at the Hà Nội Medical University in the capital. It has already been tested on rabbits and mice.

“The vaccine was proved safe to the animals and reported strong immune response in the animals,” Head of IVAC Dương Hữu Thái said.

Thái said that the vaccine had been studied and developed since May.

IVAC will co-operate with The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) and Hà Nội Medical University to conduct the trials on human, according to Thái. Volunteers will receive two doses of vaccines with each dose of 1mcg and 3 mcg. The second dose is administrated 28 days later.

IVAC and Health Ministry’s agencies will observe the trials and decide the next course of action.

The volunteers are aged between 18 and 59 years old, healthy and without any underlying health conditions. The first phase is expected to finish in April.

If the trials prove the vaccine works effectively, it will be available for public use later this year.

According to Dương Hữu Thái – head of IVAC, IVAC uses an egg-based vaccine production technology, making use of the Newcastle disease virus (NDV) expressing the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.

The production will be similar to that of the influenza vaccine A/H5N1.

The live NDV-Lasota-S virus is injected into a membrane of fertilised hen’s egg and cultivated, then the propagated viruses are extracted from the membrane to be inactivated while still maintain their physical properties.

The now inactivated virus, unable to cause disease, will still trigger the body’s immune response that can target the coronavirus.

Nguyễn Ngô Quang, Vice Director of the Administration of Science, Technology and Training under the Ministry of Health, said that COVIVAC was evaluated in the US and by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) and received positive feedback.

The trial was expected to be conducted at Hà Nội Medical University on January 21 and 22.

Prof and Dr Tạ Thành Văn, the university chairman confirmed the university would carry out the human trials of the vaccine COVIVAC.

On January 4, the university started preparations and develop schemes for the trials.

Currently, Việt Nam has four COVID-19 vaccines under development by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 (Vabiotech) and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac).

On December 17, 2020, the first Việt Nam-made COVID-19 vaccine NANOCOVAX developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC entered human trials with volunteers receiving the first doses at the Military Medical University in Hà Nội.

The volunteers remain in a healthy condition after receiving two doses each.

As Việt Nam detected the first COVID-19 case carrying the newly found, highly contagious variant of coronavirus last Saturday, Prof Đặng Đức Anh, chairman of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology said that the new variant would not affect the trial and production schemes of locally produced vaccines.

He told online newspaper zing.vn that the vaccine’s antigen affected the spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 while the mutations of the coronavirus occurred in other genomic regions.

He also said that the patient who was found carrying the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 was taken into quarantine area upon arrival to Việt Nam, so the risk for infections in community was minimised.

His institute analysed and decoded genes of every testing sample to quickly detect new variants, he said, adding that the institute so far detected no patient with the new variant of coronavirus.

Until now, Việt Nam reported only one COVID-19 patient with the new variant of coronavirus detected by HCM City Pasteur Institute.  VNS

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