LONDON/BEIJING: China’s SinoVac is starting Phase III trials of its potential coronavirus vaccine, it said on Monday, becoming one of three companies to move into the late stages in the race to develop an inoculation against the disease.
It will start recruiting volunteers this month, it said in a release published on China’s WeChat messaging app platform. Last week, Brazil gave the go-ahead for the company to start testing volunteers in the country.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest document released on Monday outlining the status of trials being conducted around the globe said SinoVac’s was now at Phase III.
AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed by researchers at the University of Oxford, and Sinopharm are the only other candidates in late-stage Phase III trials.
SinoVac is building a vaccine plant, which it hopes will be ready this year and capable of making up to 100 million shots a year.
Phase I and Phase II trials typically test the safety of a drug before it enters Phase III trials that test its efficacy.
There are 19 vaccine trials in clinical evaluation and hundreds being developed and tested around the world to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands and ravaged the global economy.
No COVID-19 vaccine has yet been approved for commercial use. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis last year found that about one in three vaccines in the first stage of testing later gains approval.