Chinese Covid-19 vaccine trial seeks volunteers for second of three-phase trial

Illustrative vial of coronavirus vaccine.

(, Apr11’20) – In the race to develop a vaccine against the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese biopharma firm CanSino Biologics is recruiting 500 volunteers for the second phase of a clinical trial of a vaccine that is China’s biggest hope for preventing a repetition of the epidemic, reported Apr 10.

The report cited the Tianjin-based company as announcing Apr 9 night that it and the Institute of Biotechnology at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences would begin the second phase of the trial after preliminary data from the first stage indicated that it was safe to proceed.

While developing a vaccine usually takes years, a number of trials are already up and running especially in China and the USA, given the scale of the havoc the Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed on public health and economy across the world. The novel coronavirus pandemic broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and has now infected more than 1.5 million people and killed close to 103,000 of them.

US biotech start-up Moderna started the world’s first clinical trial last month while Inovio Pharmaceuticals is partnering with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology in China for its first human trials. More clinical trials from China’s other vaccine candidates are expected to start this month, the report said.

Vaccine clinical trials comprise three phases, the report noted. The first stage involves a small number of people to prove the product is safe; the second phase involves hundreds to observe safety and effectiveness and determine a vaccination plan; and the third phase involves more volunteers to enable the scientists to better understand the protective capacity of the vaccine. Initial trials on animals ha e been skipped in this case due to the urgency of the requirement for a vaccine.

The report cited Wu Zunyong, chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, as saying last month that even with fast-track permission, it would take at least three months to complete the three phases of the trial.


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