Local virus jab shows promise in animal tests

Local virus jab shows promise in animal tests

A possible Covid-19 mRNA vaccine developed by a local biotechnology company is set to enter the first phase of human clinical trials after showing promise during laboratory testing on guinea pigs, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday.

"If everything goes according to plan, Thailand and its people will have a vaccine [against Covid-19] in nine months," he said, referring to the vaccine being developed by BioNet-Asia Co.

Several countries in Asia are already interested in taking part in a possible third phase of clinical trials, which will require a large number of humans participating, he added. Bionet-Asia, a local firm working with the government and a top Bangkok university, has put all other activities on hold and dedicated 250 personnel and all of its labs, technology and production facilities to developing a Covid-19 vaccine.

At present, negotiations are underway with these countries regarding the terms of any future final-stage clinical trial.

"BioNet-Asia has every right to take this potential vaccine [if successful] to any international company but it has insisted on making this vaccine an asset for all Thais to ensure everyone here will have access to it," Mr Anutin said. The company is already capable of mass-producing the vaccine. However, the government has also agreed to do what it can to help, he added.

Meanwhile, Vitoon Vonghangool, managing director of BioNet-Asia Co, said the company will submit to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety details of this potential vaccine. It is based on the same technology used by three to four other potential vaccines already approved by food and drug authorities in the US and Europe.

If the FDA approves the company's request to begin clinical trials, BioNet-Asia Co will begin a small-scale human trial along with tests on monkeys possibly by late July and early August. A vaccine could be made available, at least for medical staff, by the first quarter of next year.

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