BANGKOK, July 21 (NNN-BERNAMA) — As scientists around the world are rushing to create a COVID-19 vaccine, Thailand has also joined the global race to produce an affordable and accessible vaccine to protect the people in the kingdom against the pandemic.
Thailand’s National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) under the National Science and Technology Development Agency are among the organisations and universities in the kingdom creating the vaccine.
Lead researcher of the COVID-19 vaccine development programme at BIOTEC, Dr Anan Jongkaewwattana, said a total of 22 researchers from BIOTEC’s Virology and Cell Technology Research Team and Veterinary Health Innovation and Management Research Group started developing five vaccine candidates (vaccine already developed and still under trial) for about six months.
The Director of Veterinary Health Innovation Management Group said two types – Influenza-A-virus-based vaccine and recombinant protein-based vaccine – have been successfully tested in mice models, and showed a positive response.
“We will begin the test on hamsters, looking for another positive response to enable clinical trials in humans as early as the end of the year or early January next year,” he told Bernama.
Dr Anan said BIOTEC’s research teams have developed five vaccine types as “we are not sure which will be the best and (the most) successful.”
“We hope one of these systems will move forward to human trial in Thailand,” he said.
Dr Anan added the research teams are committed to producing an effective and affordable vaccine priced below 1,000 baht (RM134) per dose.
“We can make it cheaper than that,” he said.
Besides BIOTEC, public and private organisations developing COVID-19 vaccine include Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University and Mahidol University.
Dr Anan hopes Thailand will be successful in the hunt for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“As a scientist, our data show promising results (for COVID-19 vaccine), at least in the animal model.
“I think the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Thai scientists will be a success. We hope one of the Thai scientists’ vaccine will go to Thai users and protect the people from the deadly virus. We cannot wait for the vaccine from outside the country. It will take a longer time to reach the people in the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chulalongkorn University’s research team plans to begin human trials of its candidate vaccine for COVID-19 in November as its mRNA vaccine generated satisfactory result.
The head researcher at Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development, Prof Dr Kiat Ruxrungtham, said Thailand could have its vaccine by the second half of 2021 if the clinical trials are successful.
BioNet-Asia, a Thai-French privately-held biotech company, is preparing its facilities for 10,000 doses of vaccine if the trials prove successful.
To date, there is no approved vaccine for COVID-19 but there are 163 vaccines being studied worldwide and a total of 23 candidate vaccines are in clinical evaluation while 140 in pre-clinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Source: NAM News Network