China’s vaccine for coronavirus may be tested abroad: Official

Beijing: China, which is developing a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus, plans to conduct additional trials in other countries seriously hit by the pandemic if the ongoing trial in the country’s virus epicentre Wuhan proves it is safe and effective, a Chinese researcher said.

The first stage clinical trial for the vaccine was started in Wuhan on March 16 after authorities approved. It has been proceeding smoothly, and its results will be published in April, said Chen Wei, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The vaccine will also be tried on foreigners based in China, Chen said.

Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, bore the brunt of the virus outbreak for over two months and currently the city of 11 million is returning to normal after the virus cases abated in recent days.

“If the initial results prove the vaccine is safe and produces (desired) effects, we will continue to test its effectiveness overseas through international cooperation if the global epidemic continues to spread,” Chen was quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily on Tuesday.

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In this way, the vaccine may be used in other hard-hit countries as soon as possible to bolster their efforts to control the pandemic, said Chen, who is also a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences.

Many countries have shown interest in the vaccine, Chen said, adding that she and her team members are willing to cooperate with their international counterparts in the development of vaccines for the highly infectious disease.

Before putting the vaccine in trials in other countries, domestic trials may include foreigners living in China, she said.

“A vaccine may be the most effective solution to ending the global COVID-19 epidemic,” she said.

It is still not known when the vaccine will gain approval for use, as it must be proved safe and effective first, Chen said, but she is confident in its early availability for use.

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Following the outbreak of COVID-19, many other Chinese institutes are also stepping up efforts to develop vaccines for the disease.

China has stepped up the process to finalise vaccines to counter COVID-19 after Kaiser Permanente research facility in Seattle and Washington stole the march and began human trials.

The first phase clinical trial for the vaccine, conducted in Wuhan, aims to evaluate the safety and tolerance for the vaccine in healthy adults between 18 and 60 years old.

A total of 108 volunteers had completed inoculation as of Friday, and are under medical observation, the China Daily reported.

The novel coronavirus has spread across the world, with the death toll crossing 35,000 worldwide. Italy, Spain and the United States have surpassed the number of cases in China, where the disease first emerged in December in Wuhan.

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