As the COVID-19 pandemic continues threatening countries, it is reported that China has commenced a Phase I clinical trial for a vaccine. The novel coronavirus vaccine (adenovirus vector) was created by “performing surgery” on the virus to trigger an immune response when injected into the body.
Tested in volunteers since March 16, this is one of five approaches in developing a vaccine that is currently underway. Once the vaccine proves its effectiveness after three phases of clinical trials, it is expected to be available for the public in as little as six months’ time.
China’s first domestically developed novel coronavirus vaccine is thanks to a research team led by Chen Wei, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who has been hailed as a “virus terminator.” Wei is known for her work in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. After she developed the first homegrown vaccine for the virus, China became the third country to put an Ebola vaccine into clinical trials.
According to the publication, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention “successfully isolated the first strain of the novel coronavirus, laying the foundation for developing a vaccine.” Two days later, Chen’s team rushed to the epicenter of Wuhan to continue their research, using the same technology as was used for the Ebola vaccine, they created the recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine.
Although Phase I of the clinical trial was designed for just 108 volunteers, several thousand people signed up to take part. Among the volunteers, there’s a Wuhan resident who agreed to participate in Phase I of the clinical trial. The man decided to try the vaccine after his wife was unfortunately infected with COVID-19. Now that his wife has recovered, the volunteer wanted to give back to society. Another volunteer is a 19-years-old female that decided to be in the trials after seeing “so many young medical workers across the country fighting on the frontlines.” Their heroic work inspired her to do her bit to help her hometown fight the epidemic.
Like China, the United States also started clinical trials at almost the same time, scientific researchers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and other countries have also been stepping up research.