Thailand Prepares 10,000 Potential COVID-19 Vaccines for November Human Trial

Scientists in Thailand are prepping 10,000 doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine for a set of human trials scheduled to start later this year.

Speaking at a press briefing in Bangkok today, Kiat Ruxrungtham, director of a vaccine development program at Chulalongkorn University, said a vaccine candidate produced high antibody levels in animals during recent tests, as reported by Reuters.

As a result, the researcher said that should human trials be successful, a vaccine for the infectious illness could be ready for use by the second half of next year.

COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that originated in China, has been linked to more than 12.5 million infections and over 560,000 deaths globally. There is no known cure, but countries are racing to find viable treatments.

According to Reuters, Kiat said a facility could finish dose production in October, after which the product will be sent to a second facility and completed by November.

He said a firm, BioNet-Asia, is prepping facilities for large scale manufacturing should the trials have positive results, but noted no human volunteers will be accepted into the program before approval from the country's Food and Drug Administration.

Anticipation about the Thailand scientists' vaccine candidate has come after promising levels of antibodies were recorded after injections into monkeys and mice.

"We hope that the vaccine could generate neutralizing antibodies in humans seen in monkeys and mice," Kiat said in the news conference, Bloomberg reported, noting that recruitment for volunteers is expected to launch in September this year.

The 10,000 doses of the vaccine candidate will be produced in facilities located in San Diego and Vancouver, with participants in the first groups being administered different doses in an attempt to judge effectiveness, according to Reuters, citing Kiat.

The first stage of the clinical trial is expected to include about 100 volunteers, who will be split into two groups—one with those aged 18 to 60 and the other including people aged 60 to 80 years old, according to Bloomberg.

The second stage, with December as a rough time scale, will have 500 to 1,000 people, while a third stage could include over 10,000 volunteers in various countries.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 21 candidate vaccines are now in clinical evaluation, while 139 more are in a preclinical evaluation stage.

"While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure the disease," the WHO says. "[We do] not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials of both western and traditional medicines."

Some of the effective ways to protect against COVID-19 are to clean your hands more frequently, cover your mouth and maintain social distancing, the organization notes.

COVID-19 vaccine candidate
This picture taken on May 23, 2020 shows a laboratory technician holding a tray with doses of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand at Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi. MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty