Homegrown mRNA Thai vaccine for Covid-19 could be ready by year end — report
The Thai Food and Drug Administration will soon review trial results from its country’s first locally-developed Covid-19 vaccine, which uses the same mRNA technology that successful vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have also employed. If all goes well, Thailand will roll out its first homegrown vaccine by the end of this year, its government has said.
The first lot of the vaccine was produced by BioNet-Asia, and developed by Chulalongkorn University researchers, the Bangkok Post reported. The jab, dubbed ChulaCov19, has yet to begin clinical trials in humans but expects to later this year, the Chula Vaccine Research Center said. The center worked in collaboration with UPenn Professor Drew Weissman, who also worked on the mRNA vaccine tech that Pfizer/BioNTech deployed.
The vaccine’s production was spurred by a 2.31 billion baht ($67 million) investment from the government last year.
BioNet-Asia can make 20 million doses a year. More than a dozen vaccines are being developed, according to Bloomberg, in an effort to cut back reliance on foreign supply. Chulalongkorn’s is the most advanced. Thailand is also home to AstraZeneca’s only manufacturing site in southeast Asia.
Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek told the Bangkok Post that Thailand’s goal of producing its own vaccine aligns with its 10-year strategic plan to become a medical hub by 2026.
“The goal was set before the Covid-19 pandemic began, and by becoming a vaccine production center, more Thai people will have access to the vaccine,” she told the outlet.
Last July, AstraZeneca ran into vaccine distribution issues in Thailand and was forced to ask the government for a five-month extension of the timeline to deliver 61 million doses, bringing its deadline all the way to this May. The hiccup led Thailand to reportedly consider imposing export bans on locally produced doses of the jab, as waves of the virus hit its population hard.
Two weeks ago, the Quad Vaccine Partnership handed over a consignment of Covdi-19 vaccines from India to the government of Thailand. More than 200,000 made-in-India doses of Covovax were given to the Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul on April 21 in Bangkok.