Cuba to start clinical trials of potential coronavirus vaccine

Thursday, 2020-08-20 10:30:18
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Cuba kicks off clinical trials next week of a potential coronavirus vaccine called "Soberana 01" ("Sovereign 01") developed by its state-run Finlay Institute, with results due in February, state-run media said on Wednesday (August 19).

The potential coronovirus vaccine will be delivered in two injections during the trials that will involve 676 people aged between 19 and 80 years and conclude on Jan. 11.

Cuba prides itself on its biopharmaceutical industry, begun by former revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, which is also an important hard currency earner and already produces several vaccines.

Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, told Cuban state news agency Prensa Latina that Cuba could even be one of the places it could choose to produce the vaccine from November onwards.

Authorities say their treatments for the new coronavirus have already helped it reduce mortality in sufferers.

They touted interferon long before other producers started hailing the merits of the decades-old antiviral agent that boosts immune system and say dozens of countries have expressed an interest in buying it.

The country of 11 million inhabitants has registered just a handful of deaths in the last few months, bringing the total to 88 deaths for 3,482 confirmed cases since the start of its outbreak in March.

Cuba has handled its outbreak in textbook fashion through contact tracing and isolation of potential asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, although cases have risen in recent weeks since it eased lockdown restrictions in the capital, prompting it to tighten them once more.

* Bangladesh is ready to hold trials of potential COVID-19 vaccines developed by India and will receive early supplies of any successful candidate, officials said on Wednesday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent his foreign secretary to Bangladesh's capital Dhaka on Tuesday on a two-day visit to hold meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and officials.

"Bangladesh is ready to collaborate in the development of a COVID vaccine, including its trial, and looks forward to early affordable availability of the vaccine when it is ready," its foreign ministry said in a statement.

The release followed a meeting of the foreign secretary and his Indian counterpart Harsh Vardhan Shringla, during which Shringla had discussed India's economies of scale in vaccine manufacturing with Bangladeshi officials, the statement said.

India is home to the world's biggest vaccine making company, the Serum Institute of India, and is currently holding trials for three potential COVID-19 vaccines, including one licensed to AstraZeneca Plc by Oxford University.

* Mexico has told Moscow it is eager to have Russia's coronavirus vaccine once phase three testing for the product is complete, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Wednesday.

After a meeting with Russia's ambassador to Mexico, Viktor Koronelli, Ebrard said on Twitter that he had communicated Mexico's interest that phase three should be carried out "so as to have the vaccine as soon as possible in Mexico."

* Republic of Korea's Green Cross Corp has received regulatory approval for phase II human clinical trials of its experimental coronavirus plasma treatment drug, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said on Thursday. The trials will test the safety and efficacy of the drug in 60 severe patients with underlying conditions like pneumonia, Green Cross said. Green Cross was allowed to skip phase I trials. Its therapy is the country's first to enter phase II for COVID-19 plasma treatment.

* Turkey is in talks with Russia, Germany and China about conducting Phase 3 trials for coronavirus vaccines developed in those countries, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday.

Germany and China have applied to conduct the Phase 3 trials in Turkey and have presented pre-clinical trial results, while Ankara wants to see pre-clinical results from Russia before the trials, Koca said.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, he said there were 13 vaccines being developed in Turkey, three of which have gone beyond the animal testing phase.

Xinhua