COVID vaccine trial to end this week in Pakistan

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Abid Raza

LAHORE: The phase III clinical trials for a Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidate at the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad will end this week.

The lead physician of the clinical trial, Dr Ejaz A Khan told Geo.tv that the Ad5-nCoV vaccine is developed by CanSino Biologics and a research unit backed by the Chinese military.

“The trials began in September last year with a target of 17,500 volunteers.”

The physician, who is also the chairman of infection control at the hospital, said the sample will be reviewed by Dalhousie University in Canada. “The university will determine the efficacy of the vaccine.”

The trial will then enter phase IV which is when a vaccine is green-lighted for manufacturing, marketing, and distribution, he added.

A health official told Geo.tv that the data of Chinese vaccines, Sinopharm and Ad5-nCoV, has been submitted to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) for grant of emergency use.

“First limited supply [of vaccine] likely to start in February,” the official added.

The first-ever large-scale trial in Pakistan was conducted at five centres; two in Karachi and Lahore each and, one in Islamabad.

In the federal capital, the Shifa International Hospital repurposed a building previously used for COVID-19 testing for the trial where volunteers, recruited through NGOs, hospitals and corporations, arrived by appointment to get the jab.

To volunteer, the individual must be 18 and above, not have tested positive for COVID-19, not have immune deficiencies, and not be pregnant for the trial duration.