Australia announces new injection of COVID-19 vaccine aid in Pacific, Southeast Asia

Australia has pledged AUD500 million (US$363 million) to help Pacific and Southeast Asian countries get better access to COVID-19 vaccines.
November 08, 2020 | 08:12
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A scientist works in a laboratory to produce Covid-19 vaccine for Vietnam in the central province of Khanh Hoa, August 2020. Photo: VnExpress

Australia has pledged AUD500 million (US$363 million) to help Pacific and Southeast Asian countries get better access to COVID-19 vaccines.

To be provided over three years, and on top of the AUD23.2 million it committed earlier, the initiative, besides helping supply safe and effective vaccine doses, will offer a range of technical support like assisting with assessment of vaccine safety, efficacy and quality by national regulatory authorities.

"A fast, safe vaccine rollout in the Pacific and Southeast Asia will mean we are able to return to more normal travel, tourism and trade with our key partners in the region," a statement issued on last week by the Australian Embassy in Vietnam said.

"We are securing access to COVID-19 vaccines for Australia, the Pacific and Southeast Asia through a range of advance purchase agreements with manufacturers and through participation in the multilateral COVAX Facility."

COVAX Facility is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live, VnExpress said.

According to WHO, 64 "higher income economies" have joined it so far.

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A medical worker handles mice's blood samples for COVID-19 vaccine research in Hanoi. Photo: VnExpress

Last week, Vietnamese health authorities announced that the country’s first COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, could enter human trials as early as this month.

There are three more under research by Vabiotech, Polyvac and the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals.

The Ministry of Health is considering authorising first phase human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this month.

The vaccine is produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC (Nanogen), one of the four companies that are studying COVID-19 vaccines. If the company’s vaccine is approved, it will be the country's first to reach the stage of human trials.

Nanogen plans to test the vaccine on 60 people in the first stage.

The second stage will see the participation of 400 people.

Previously, this vaccine has undergone many assessments. It has also been sent abroad for testing on primates to evaluate the safety and ability to produce immunity in animals.

Nguyen Ngo Quang, Deputy Director of Department of Science, Technology and Training under the health ministry, said that after the vaccine was tested on animals, the ministry will provide maximum support for manufacturers to conduct human clinical trials. However, they must ensure safety for volunteers and ethical aspects of research.

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Researchers produce vaccines at Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 (VABIOTECH), one of the four companies that are studying COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: VNA

Vietnam has four manufactures who are researching and produced COVID-19 vaccines. They are Polyvac and the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (Ivac), Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 (Vabiotech), and Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac) and Nanogen.

Ivac is in the process of completing research protocols on clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine. It is expected that the company will submit the clinical trial documents by the end of this year.

Vabiotech has also started a pre-clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine in monkeys. After the shots are done, the monkeys will be monitored for about three months, then their blood samples will be collected for testing.

Earlier, the company tested the vaccine on mice. It is expected that Vabiotech will have the first batch of vaccines for clinical trials early next year.

As many as 187 companies around the world are developing COVID-19 vaccines, of which 38 are undergoing human trials. Nine products are in the third phase – testing on a large number of volunteers.

Vietnam’s health ministry and scientists are hoping to have commercial products in the fourth quarter of next year.

The country has registered to receive priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available on the market, Viet Nam News said. /.

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