Thai Covid-19 vaccine expected late next year

Researchers in Thailand working on a Covid-19 vaccine said last week they expect to begin mass-producing doses by the third quarter of next year if all goes well. A Thai vaccine could help ensure access in the face of enormous global demand.

The Thai researchers at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok have been collaborating with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania in their drive to develop a vaccine. The team has tested their candidate formula on non-human primates, and they showed high levels of Covid-19 antibodies after receiving it. The researchers are hoping to begin human trials in October.

Although the team’s progress has not been as rapid as that of U.S. pharmaceutical firm Moderna and another research team at England’s Oxford University, their work could prove to be extremely valuable if it is ultimately successful.

First, no one knows if the early results by Moderna and Oxford University will eventually translate into an effective vaccine, although the results have been promising so far. Second, if those vaccines are effective, demand for them around the world would be overwhelming. Public health officials are concerned that developing countries would have to wait for an extended period before enough doses could be manufactured and distributed to them.

Thai officials have said that should the Kingdom’s vaccine prove to be workable, they could produce enough doses quickly to help meet demand in Southeast Asia and beyond.

BioNet Asia, a private Thai-French biotechnology company that is a partner in the research, has said that if the Chulalongkorn team can develop an effective vaccine, the company would be able to produce millions of doses ready for distribution in the second half of next year.

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