Thailand recruiting volunteers for Covid-19 vaccine trial

As part of the global race to solve the coronavirus, Thai scientists at Chulalongkorn University have issued a call for 5,000 volunteers to participate in a trial of a Covid-19 candidate vaccine they’ve developed and injected into 13 monkeys with no ill effects.

“This project is for the human race, not just Thais. The prime minister (Prayut Chan-o-cha) has outlined a policy that we must develop a vaccine and join the world community workforce on this,” said Suvit Maesincee, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation.

Globally, scientists are formulating or testing over 100 vaccines they hope will be effective in preventing Covid-19 infection. Thailand’s public health sector is among the most respected among middle-income nations. While Thai doctors and scientists may not have the wealth of resources available in some advanced countries, they possess an abundance of knowledge, experience, and strive for innovation.

“We are using mRNA technology, the newest method for developing vaccines because the vaccine can be developed rapidly, and small amounts can be used to run tests,” Suvit said.

Kiat Ruxrungtham, director of Chulalongkorn University’s coronavirus vaccine development team, said that if Thailand can achieve success in the hunt for a vaccine, it would help in rapidly supplying neighboring and other developing countries.

“We don’t aim for making money. It’s not a money issue but an accessibility one,” said Kiat.

If an advanced nation develops a vaccine, demand for it would be extremely high, and it could take a long time for some countries to receive it.

“How can the manufacturing facility make millions or billions of doses?” Kiat asked. “So a country like us, a small country, we need to step up and then do our own work as well.”

Suvit said he expects human trials to begin in August if the simian recipients continue to show no problems or significant side effects.

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