Thailand to Begin Human Trials for Covid-19 Vaccine in March

Thailand will begin clinical trials of a locally developed Covid-19 vaccine in March, making it the nation’s first inoculation program to enter human trials.

The program, led by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, Mahidol University and PATH, the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, started its research mid-2020 and its animal testings showed promising results, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Wednesday.

“Thailand isn’t just relying on one source for vaccines. We’re actively looking for ways to procure the shots, including producing them ourselves,” Anutin said, adding that if the human trials are successful, the state drug manufacturer will be able to produce 25 to 30 million doses of the vaccines per year.

“We’re not placing our bets on one horse, what we’re doing now is owning a whole stable,” Anutin said.

Thailand has so far secured 63 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from foreign manufacturers. Authorities will use 2 millions doses from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. between March and May, and 61 million shots of AstraZeneca Plc vaccines to be produced locally by Thai monarchy-backed Siam Bioscience Ltd. from June, according to Nakorn Premsri, director of the National Vaccine Institute.

The state drug organization’s clinical trials are expected to take about six to eight months, with the first and second phases conducted in Thailand, and the third phase in a country with an ongoing outbreak, according to the Health Ministry and Mahidol University. The first two phases of trials will each have more than 200 Thai volunteers, officials said.

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