Vietnam has enjoyed some initial success in producing a vaccine to protect against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), following experimental trials taking place on mice.
|Vietnamese scientists have been testing a newly developed vaccine on mice for the past 10 days, hoping to get positive results (Photo: BSCC)
A total of 50 mice which have been given shots to protect against the COVID-19 for the past 10 days remain healthy and active, according to PhD Do Tuan Dat, Chairman of the Company for Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 (VABIOTECH) under the Vietnamese Ministry of Health.
This initial success means that the vaccine is safe, with experts set to continue to monitor the response of the mice’s immune system throughout phase one, Dat said.
According to the expert, scientists will now move on to taking blood samples from the vaccinated mice on the 14th and 28th day after the shots are initially given in order to evaluate the immunogenicity of the potential vaccine against the COVID-19. Further steps will be considered based on the results and evaluation report.
At present, VABIOTECH is one of four Vietnamese agencies which are permitted to research a COVID-19 vaccine. It has collaborated with the University of Bristol in the UK to develop a vaccine based on virus vector technology.
Dat noted that this technology may prove difficult at first to create an immune response protein, but the subsequent steps will move faster than they would have done if gene synthesis technology was used, therefore helping to shorten the time for vaccine development and production.
Despite this initial success, Dat admitted it is difficult to know exactly when the country will be able to produce a COVID-19 vaccine because much depends on the research process.
If successful, the vaccine will be tested on other animals in order to assess its safety before moving on to conduct clinical trials on humans in small groups.
At present, roughly 100 agencies globally are conducting research on the COVID-19 vaccine, with the majority of them undertaking experiments on mice, and only eight companies testing on both humans and animals, a process which has been described as risky.
Moreover, scientists doubt that the vaccine will be available on the market in between 12 to 18 months as expected, largely based on the fact that it took scientists up to five years to produce a vaccine against the Ebola virus.