The first locally-made COVID-19 vaccine will enter its first phase of human trials next month and complete its final phase by the end of this year.
The timetable update has raised hopes the country will soon be able to produce its COVID-19 vaccine at the rate of 30 million doses per year.
The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) has been working on the project with its international partners, including the global Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.
Together they have developed a pilot NDV-HXP-S vaccine and lab tests have been showing promising results.
The GPO and Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University are now working to prepare the pilot vaccine for the human trial.
Punnee Pitisuttithum, acting chief of the Vaccine Trial Centre at Mahidol University and head of the human trial project, said yesterday the first phase would start next month and involve 210 participants over a few months.
The second trial will begin by April on 250 participants.
“We expect to get the final trial by the end of this year,” said Ms Pitisuttithum. “We required a large number of participants so it might be that the test will also be carried out abroad.” The vaccine is based on an egg-based formula developed in the 1950s and still administered to ward off avian flu. 1.48 billion doses were produced last year alone.
Researchers are confident this tried and trusted technology will ensure a high-quality vaccine that is safe and effective. Moreover, the vaccine can be conveniently stored in temperatures from 2-8 degrees Celsius.
Its is expected that vaccine will be ready to be submitted to the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval by next year.
Withoon Danwiboon, GPO’s managing director, said the plant being used in Saraburi could produce 25-30 million doses per year. It is currently producing a vaccine for avian flu vaccine but could switch to the COVID-19 vaccine project if the human trials are successful.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the government had successfully restricted COVID-19.
He added that at least 63 million vaccine doses had already been set aside for Thai people in the coming months.