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What do we know so far about Vietnam’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccines?

Friday, March 19, 2021, 14:01 GMT+7
What do we know so far about Vietnam’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccines?
Bottles of Nanocovax, Vietnam’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccine developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam is currently developing four COVID-19 vaccines, one of which is expected to be available by the fourth quarter of this year.

The four made-in-Vietnam COVID-19 vaccines are being developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Vaccine and Biological Production Company No.1 (VABIOTECH), the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac).

Nanogen’s vaccine, named Nanocovax, is anticipated to be available by the fourth quarter of this year and put into use in 2022, according to the Ministry of Health.

One of Nanocovax’s most touted characteristics is that its storage requirements only call for temperatures between two and eight degrees Celsius, making it relatively easy to store and transport.

After a successful round of animal testing, the vaccine entered its first phase of human trials between December 17, 2020 and February 9, 2021, with the participation of 60 volunteers.

The second phase of human trials began on February 26, with the number of volunteers expected to be 560.

If the results of this second phase are promising, the final phase will likely start in May with 10,000 to 15,000 volunteers, said Do Quyet, director of the Military Medical University – the institution charged with conducting the human trial.

Meanwhile, human trials for IVAC’s COVID-19 vaccine – Covivac – commenced on March 15 and are being carried out by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology at Hanoi Medical University.

The first phase includes 120 volunteers divided into five groups.

A mid-term report of this phase is expected to be completed by July.

Phase two of the IVAC human trials will commence right after the end of its first phase, with 300 volunteers to receive doses of the vaccine in Thai Binh Province.

Vietnam’s third homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, developed by VABIOTECH, will also enter its human trial phase by the end of 2021, according to Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan.

VABIOTECH has yet to announce an official name for its vaccine.

Details regarding the country’s fourth homegrown vaccine, Polyvac, have yet to be released.

The Vietnamese government has stated it plans to acquire a total of 150 million vaccine doses, with 60 million already secured from AstraZeneca and the World Health Organization’s COVAX scheme.

The country received its first COVID-19 vaccine shipment on February 24 – a batch of 117,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – and began COVID-19 inoculation on March 8.

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