A day after the U.S. launched its first clinical trials for the novel coronavirus vaccine with human test subjects, China has given the go-ahead for researchers to begin human safety tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the race to develop a shot against the COVID-19 epidemic that has killed more than 7,000 people worldwide.
Researchers at China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences – affiliated to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) – received approval to launch early-stage clinical trials of the potential vaccine starting this week, the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily reported Tuesday.
"Some vaccines for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are expected to enter clinical trials as soon as possible in China," said Chinese officials at a news conference in Beijing, Xinhua news reported. "So far, most teams are expected to complete preclinical research in April and some are moving forward faster," Wang Junzhi, an academic with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told reporters in China's capital.
A vaccine being developed in Shanghai is expected to enter clinical trials by mid-April, a health official from the region said. Details in the Chinese clinical trial registration database show that a "Phase 1" test that will examine whether the experimental shot is safe for humans aims to recruit 108 healthy people to take part in the trial between March 16 and Dec. 31.
Scientists in the U.S. said Monday that clinical trials had begun for a vaccine developed by its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S. biotech firm Moderna.