U.S. working with Thai researchers on COVID-19 vaccine

Researchers in Bangkok developing an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine are cooperating with a long-standing partner – the U.S. Army, which has had a medical research project Bangkok since 1958. Thai and American soldier-scientists at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) have been doing research together to test a new COVID-19 mRNA vaccine being developed by Chulalongkorn University researchers.

The collaboration is in addition to the up to 2.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine the U.S. is donating to Thailand. For the past 60 years, the U.S. and Thai public health sector have been working together on a range of issues related to medicine, diseases and research.

Aside from AFRIMS, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an office in Bangkok and works side-by-side with Thai scientists and health experts at the Ministry of Public Health. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also works directly with Thai public health officials and provides technical assistance, including strengthening diagnostic and testing capacity for at-risk communities.

Thailand is manufacturing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. But the Kingdom is also working on developing its own vaccines. Doing so will better prepare Thailand to respond to future variants and future viruses. The work will increase the capacity and abilities of Thai researchers. Aside from the Chulalongkorn vaccine, three other Thai COVID-19 vaccines in development hold promise for success.

The NDV-HXP-S vaccine is a joint effort by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) and Mahidol University’s Vaccine Center. It is in Phase 2 human trials. The vaccine uses the same technology as the flu vaccine and received international cooperation from the PATH organization with joint research from manufacturers in Vietnam and Brazil.

The Covigen vaccine is produced by Bionet-Asia and stimulated a strong immune response in rats. Approval is now being sought from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Phase 1 human trials with a parallel trial in Australia.

The Baiya Phytopharm, a start-up from Chulalongkorn University’s CU Innovation Hub, is modifying tobacco protein to mimic the COVID-19 virus. It will start testing its vaccine prototype in humans in August or September. This is a different vaccine from the one that AFRIMS is working on with the university.

Photo courtesy of: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/your-vaccination.html