(Reuters) – An experimental vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech appeared to be safe in providing protection against the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus, preliminary results of a late stage clinical trial conducted in Brazil showed yesterday.
Sinovac is the first drugmaker to disclose late stage trial results, putting China ahead in attempts to develop a coronavirus vaccine to fight against a pandemic that has killed over 1 million people globally.
Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute, one of Brazil’s leading biomedical research centers that is carrying out the Phase 3 tests, said the vaccine called Coronavac proved to be safe after its two doses were applied to 9,000 volunteers.
But Butantan director Dimas Covas said data on how effective the vaccine is in protecting people against the new coronavirus will not be released until it has been tested on all of the 15,000 volunteers in expanded trials.
Sao Paulo state health secretary Jean Gorinchteyn said the vaccines appeared to produce protective anti-bodies. The state is hoping to obtain regulatory approval for Coronavac by the end of the year to start inoculating its population early in 2021.
Sinovac really needed Brazil as a testing ground since it has been one of the global hotbeds of the virus, although cases are 43% off their peak of nearly 70,000.
Brazil has reported more than 5.2 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, the world’s third most affected country after the United States and India.
AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University are nearing an analysis of their UK trial. Pfizer Inc has said it could provide an early analysis of its trial this month and Moderna Inc may announce its results in November. Russia’s Gamaleya Institute may also provide an analysis of its vaccine in the next month.
Pfizer and Moderna were both nearly fully enrolled at last count, with Pfizer’s at 38,000 out of 40,000 people as of one week ago and Moderna several hundred people short of the 30,000 people it plans to sign up as of Friday.
Competing candidates developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson have had their trials halted in the United States due to safety issues.