3.2m signed up for Sinopharm jabs, Thailand’s mRNA vaccine candidate enters human trials

THAILAND’S provider of Sinopharm vaccine has seen 3.2 million people sign up for the alternative offering in the government’s main vaccination drive, while Thailand’s homegrown mRNA Covid-19 vaccine has entered human trials, NNT said today (June 15).

Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA), the sole provider of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine in Thailand as an alternative offering to the government’s national inoculation campaign announced it has received a list of 3,182,006 million people who wish to get Sinopharm jabs, sent via 6,938 organizations.

With the vaccine requiring a 2-dose regimen, the academy would need a supply of more than 6 million doses to serve all the people signed up.

Currently, the academy allows private firms, organizations, and local administrations to book Sinopharm jabs with the CRA for their employees or residents, on the condition that such organizations are responsible for the costs, and can’t charge their employees or resident recipients for the jabs.

The first batch of 1 million doses procured by the CRA will be arriving this month, as announced earlier by the academy’s Secretary General Dr Nithi Mahanonda. The academy is now reviewing all applications to determine who would be getting the jabs from the first batch. Registered organizations are still allowed to edit their submitted information or send further documents by emailing the CRA.

Meanwhile, a highly anticipated homegrown mRNA Covid-19 vaccine candidate has finally entered the early stages of human trials in healthy adults.

Named ChulaCov19, this vaccine candidate developed by Chula Vaccine Research Centre (Chula VRC) at Chulalongkorn University uses the same mRNA technology as Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 jabs, where only the genetic sequence called Messenger RNA is used to tell human cells to produce SARS-CoV-2 spike protein on their own. The spike protein produced by the body will then teach the immune system to fight against the real virus.

Vaccines using this technology do not introduce the virus, parts of the virus, or viral vector into the body, and cannot alter a person’s DNA. Current mRNA vaccines in the market have shown to be highly effective against Covid-19.

This vaccine candidate has the advantage of being able to be stored at refrigerator temperature for up to three months, or at 25 degrees C for two weeks, which is significantly easier to store and handle than other mRNA vaccines on the market requiring ultra cold storage.

Chula VRC has commenced a Phase 1 clinical study among 72 healthy adults, half of whom are 18-55 years old, with the others 65-75 years old, to find a safe and effective dosage. The Phase 2 study is expected to follow suit in August.

The centre hopes its vaccine candidate can skip the large-scale Phase 3 trial and enter the market before mid-2022, should earlier studies indicate the vaccine candidate can elicit a level of immune response higher than the neutralising benchmark to be determined by the World Health Organization.

Chula VRC is also preparing to conduct animal studies for their next-generation mRNA Covid-19 vaccine candidate designed to protect against SARS-CoV-2 variants, with human trials expected to start in Q4 this year.


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