The world's first inactivated vaccine to curb COVID-19 will enter phase one of its clinical trial in the city of Jiaozuo, Henan province, the northern neighbor of the outbreak's ground zero: Hubei province, announced the vaccine maker on Tuesday, reports China Daily.
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First inactivated COVID-19 vaccine enters trials
The vaccine received approval for clinical trials from the National Medical Products Administration on Sunday. Developed by a subsidiary of the China National Biotech Group Company called the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co — in addition to the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. As of writing, the start date for the trial remains unknown.
The Chinese Clinical Trial Registry — a database of clinical trials in China — shows that the vaccine passed ethical review, and is currently within the "prospective registration" phase for both the first and second phases of the clinical trials, to be randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled experiments.
The trails' goal is to "evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of inactivated novel coronavirus pneumonia vaccine in healthy people aged 6 years and above," according to the registry. The study is due to conclude by Nov. 10, 2021.
Two vaccine phases, many heroes
There will be 288 volunteers included in phase one, 216 of whom will be given different doses of the vaccine while the other 72 receive placebos. Phase two will feature 1,168 volunteers, with 876 participants taking the vaccine and 292 held in a control group.
The head of the trials — Xia Shengli — said to local media that conducting tests in Henan province, instead of Hubei, will remove distractions, making the process of verifying vaccine effectiveness and safety easier.
The vaccine developer said it possesses the infrastructure to produce en masse — more than 50,000 inactivated vaccines per batch — with 100 million vaccines produced annually.
Inactivated vaccines use a killed version of the germ that causes illness to trigger an immune response in the body, which makes it a distinctly safe way to immunize humans, since dead germs can't multiply and infect a body, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Such vaccines are used to immunize people against hepatitis, A, influenza, polio, and rabies. But there's a downside: inactivated vaccines don't induce a strong immunity, and people may need multiple booster shots over a longer period to maintain continual immunity.
While the world is in a virtual war of attrition against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, leading scientific minds and organizations are our intelligence wing against the novel virus. As this and other trials go forward, we can hope for the best but should expect the wait for a viable vaccine for global application to be a long one.
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