Thailand announces plans for human trials after developing its second COVID-19 vaccine

The vaccine which was developed by Chulalongkorn University showed promising results in prior trials with mice and monkeys. The University’s Centre of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development is utilizing new mRNA technology and its clinical testing on transgenic mice showed that the vaccine was able to prevent clinical symptoms and viremia after two shots. The university is looking to enroll 72 participants in the first phase of the human trials and subsequently increase the number to 300-600 participants in the second phase. The university has also begun research on a second-generation vaccine that will help grant additional protection to its citizens against the UK and South African variants of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters
The impact of COVID-19 has been both far-reaching and devastating, causing numerous economic and social issues. The number of undernourished individuals is estimated to be at a staggering 690 million and could even rise to 132 million by the end of the year. Both business owners, as well as global corporations, have also had to bear the brunt of this pandemic and suffered tremendous losses, with most of them being unable to carry out their usual operations. Many others are also living on tethers, with an estimated 3.3 billion of the global workforce at risk of losing their jobs. The border closures and confinement measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus have prevented farmers from harvesting crops and selling their produce, thus disrupting the global food supply chain and making safe, healthy diets more inaccessible. As food security is threatened globally and individuals are losing their earning power, those living in less developed nations are hit the hardest, especially those marginalized populations. 

Many other countries are also seeking to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. After successfully inoculating entire Thailand, the government could potentially provide international aid by importing the vaccine to other countries. 

The larger trend 
As of 22 February 2021, there are currently 112,100,856 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,480,686 deaths. However, there is still light at the end of the tunnel as the number of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases has declined by 16 percent worldwide over the past week despite having more virulent strains of the virus break out in multiple regions. Additionally, the number of global deaths over the past week has also shown a reduction by 10 percent

On the record
“The two-dose vaccine will be administered three weeks apart and will be enlisted for a rolling review with the Thai drug regulator,” Kiat Ruxrungtham, head researcher at Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development stated. 

“By year-end we should have a production capacity of 1 to 5 million doses annually,” Kiat added, hinting that this number could later rise to about 20 million doses per year.

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