Vietnam begins human trials of Covid-19 vaccine
Two men and a woman, in their 20s, whose identities were not disclosed, were vaccinated at 8:00 a.m. at the Vietnam Military Medical University in Hanoi and were in stable condition after two hours. They will be monitored for 72 hours.
They were chosen from more than 200 volunteers who had registered for the trial of the vaccine developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC.
Lieutenant General Do Quyet, director of the university, said: “It is time Vietnam tells the world we can do it, and in fact we have been proving ourselves in the fight against Covid-19 so far.”
The injection site is strictly protected by military. People must wear masks and ensure physical distancing.
Nguyen Ngo Quang, deputy head of the Ministry of Health’s Administration of Science, Technology and Training, said Vietnam “still has a battle against the pandemic ahead, and it needs cooperation from not just scientists but also the authorities and the community, especially volunteers.”
But the community should not lower its guard thinking the vaccine is now available and there is no need to continue with the protocols meant to prevent the spread of the virus, he warned.
“If the public disregards those protocols, then the efforts of the entire nation will be for nothing.”
A man is injected with Nanocovax, the first made-in-Vietnam Covid-19 vaccine, in Hanoi, December 17, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van.
The vaccination on Thursday morning is part of the first phase of the vaccine trial process in Vietnam, which will have three phases. The remaining volunteers in the group of 60 chosen for the first phase will be vaccinated three days later.
The second phase, of which date has not been decided because it must rely on the result of the first phase, will be conducted with 400-600 candidates.
Quang said an independent monitoring organization will be hired to monitor the research process in order to ensure absolute safety for volunteers and guarantee that all the research data must be objective, scientific and truthful.
Nanogen has bought insurance cover for the volunteers and also signed deals with some banks for paying total compensation of VND20 billion ($863,290) if the insurance company defaults.
The vaccine is expected to cost VND120,000 ($5.17) per dose.
A company spokesperson said the vaccine would be reasonably priced and affordable for all Vietnamese, and hopefully covered by health insurance.
Nanocovax is scheduled to enter mass production in May 2021.
Vietnam currently has four Covid vaccines under development, the others developing it being the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 (Vabiotech) and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac).
After Nanocovax, the vaccines developed by the IVAC and Vabiotech are expected to have their human trials in early 2021. Vietnam also has plans to import Covid-19 vaccines and the Health Ministry is in the step of negotiation.
Globally, 11 vaccines have entered phase three clinical trials.
Before clinical trials can begin, a vaccine needs to pass pre-clinical stages like laboratory research and tests on cells, tissue cultures and animal subjects.
Vietnam is one of the countries recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) for its vaccine research and development system. Therefore, the health sector has experience in vaccine research and testing. Vietnam has produced 11/12 different vaccines for use in the expanded vaccination program.
Photo: Quynh Tran.