Bangkok: Joining the global race to find a safe treatment for the novel coronavirus infection, Thailand said it expects to have a COVID-19 vaccine next year. A senior official on Wednesday confirmed that the Thai mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been tested successfully on mice.
Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, revealed that Thailand will begin testing its vaccine in monkeys next week following positive trial results in mice, adding that the vaccine may be available for use next year, 2021.
Earlier, Suvit Maesincee, minister of Higher Education Science Research and Innovation, had said in a press briefing regarding the development of a homegrown vaccine that Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered to fast-track the vaccine development so that Thai people will have enough vaccines for Covid-19 disease prevention.
The Thai mRNA vaccine is being developed by the National Vaccine Institute, the Department of Medical Science and Chulalongkorn University’s vaccine research centre, Reuters reported. Basically, messenger RNA prompts body cells to produce antigens – molecules on the surface of viruses – that trigger the immune system in the body, producing antibodies against the virus.
Thailand, the first country outside China to detect a case of the coronavirus in January, wants to be one of the first to have a vaccine ready for use, Taweesin added.
Thailand, which has reported a total of 3,034 cases of COVID-19 and 56 deaths, was ranked fifth globally, just ahead of South Korea, for rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic in the Johns Hopkins Global Health Security Index report in 2019.
Currently, more than 100 potential vaccines for COVID-19 are being developed, with many candidates already in clinical trials. However, the World Health Organization in April had warned that developing a safe vaccine would take at least 12 months.
On Monday, American drugmaker Moderna said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine ‘mRNA-1273’ produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers at levels similar to people who have recovered from the illness. Moderna’s vaccine is among the WHO’S top contenders for COVID-19 vaccines and was the first to be tested in the United States.
Several pharmaceutical firms across the world, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc, which is working with Germany’s BioNTech SE, are also in the race to develop vaccines for COVID-19, which has now claimed at least 318,517 lives globally.