Human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine in Thailand are expected to begin within the next four months, says the Department of Disease Control (DDC).
The announcement follows an initial agreement by the Ministry of Public Health to cooperate with Chinese pharmaceutical companies in the development of a vaccine.
Speaking at a national vaccine committee meeting chaired by the public health minister, DDC chief Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said the National Vaccine Institute is preparing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chinese partners to test a Covid-19 vaccine in Thailand.
The trial is expected to involve more than 10,000 Thai participants. “We are going to consider possible candidates to work with. It must be done based on what the benefits for the country are, including obtaining the actual vaccine quickly and technology transfer, Mr Suwannachai said. “We are now preparing what will be needed to produce it,” he said.
Regarding technology transfer, he insisted many laboratories in the country are ready to develop a vaccine if their Chinese counterparts provide them with the technology. Attempts are being made around the world to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus 2019, which is regarded as the most effective way to stop the global pandemic.
A vaccine is not expected to come out before next year at the earliest. Many pharmaceutical companies have already begun human trials to test potential vaccines to introduce a for-market version and produce it as fast as possible.
When a vaccine is developed, the DDC is looking to give it initially to 800,000 young people aged between 29-39 years old - the age group with the highest number of infections - followed by other risk groups, such as the elderly. People in big cities will be the first to be vaccinated.
“We need to balance between mitigating economic loss from the outbreak and reducing the death toll. And if we need to create a herd community in the country, at least 60% of the population must be vaccinated,” he said.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvrirakul said he has told the National Vaccine Institute to complete its vaccine development blueprint within three months so the country can go ahead with vaccine development projects.
He added the government has approved 45 billion baht for the fight against Covid-19, which included vaccine development, adding the government’s top priority is to make a vaccine available quickly.
The government on Wednesday reported 15 new coronavirus cases, raising the national total to 2,826, and one more death - a Thai woman with a chronic ailment whose daughter had earlier been infected.