Chulalonghorn University vaccine research centre’s vaccine research centre will start human trials of its mRNA vaccine candidate, tentatively in April, after it received prototype vaccine from two factories in California.
The centre’s director, Dr. Kiat Ruxrungtham, said that the initial human trials will be conducted on 72 volunteers, to assess the right dosages. This will be followed by the second stage, lasting from June until September, to test the efficacy and safety of the vaccine on about 600 volunteers.
Dr. Kiat said the centre will decide whether the third stage of the trial can be skipped, depending on technical data available at the time.
He said that one advantage of the mRNA vaccine, being developed by the centre, is that it can be stored at 5oC, compared to the Pfizer vaccine which must be stored at below -70oC. He said that in the next two months they will know the appropriate temperature for storing the mRNA vaccine and, if everything goes to plan, production could then start, with the first million doses to be available this year.
Kiat Ruxrungtham isn’t content to see Thailand wait in line to buy vaccines from another country. He’s on a mission to build up Thailand’s own vaccine production capabilities, to supply not only his country but 6 nearby nations with immunizations against Covid-19. His long-term goal is even more ambitious: to lay the groundwork for rapid vaccine development against the next pandemic, whenever it may strike.
“When you face another pandemic, instead of sitting and waiting to buy it, you have to stand up and make your own vaccine,” said Ruxrungtham. He pointed to the lesson of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, when wealthy countries produced a vaccine relatively quickly using well-established technology.
Meanwhile, Baiya Phytopharm Company is expected to begin human trials of its protein-based vaccine in June, while three more candidates are being developed by Biotech of the National Science and Technology Development Agency.