CanSino COVID-19 candidate vaccine enters Phase III trial

China has granted a patent to a COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by CanSino Biologics and a team led by infectious disease expert Chen Wei. It is a recombinant adenovirus vaccine named Ad5-nCoV.

The vaccine has completed its Phase II clinical trial and is now entering Phase III. So, what are the advantages of this vaccine candidate over other types? Will the Phase III trial prove the vaccine effective? And how do things stand in the wider global race to find a COVID-19 vaccine?

According to Zheng Zhongwei, head of China's coronavirus vaccine development task force, China has officially authorized the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines. Yu Xuefeng, chairman and CEO of CanSino Biologics, confirmed to CGTN Dialogue's Zou Yue, that their COVID-19 vaccine had already been used by some Chinese peacekeepers.

"At the end of June, we were approved by the Chinese military regulatory bodies that … they granted us permission to … use (our vaccine) for the military under the emergency need," Yu responded.

Additionally, Yu gave details about the existing COVID-19 vaccines. He said there are five types of COVID-19 vaccines, including inactivated vaccines, live attenuated influenza vaccine, adenoviral vector-based vaccines, and DNA and mRNA vaccines. He emphasized that mRNA is a new technology to develop vaccines to prevent and treat disease, showing great promise for the future.

Regarding the progress of CanSino Biologics' COVID-19 vaccine, Yu said their vaccine is set to conduct the Phase III trial. He believes that it is quite necessary to conduct the final trial, as safety always comes first.

"Right before Chinese New Year, we decided to start work on this vaccine. And we were able to make the virus seed in the mid-February. Then we started all the animal studies in parallel from mice, ferrets, rats, monkeys. All those study results tell us (the vaccine) seems like (an) immunogenic and safe vaccine candidate." he added. "We have the quality standard. We have the essay available for it. We have the production process pretty much worked out. All those factors just happen to be in place that allow us to speed up our development."

He added that CanSino's candidate vaccine will be conducted in many countries, and now they are still discussing the details with these countries. While the size of the Phase III trial is followed by the recommendation from the WHO, he estimated that it needs 30,000 to 40,000 subjects to test the candidate vaccine in total.

Although CanSino's candidate vaccine is still in clinical trial, Yu has confidence in their vaccine based on the previous Phase I, Phase II trials, and the animal testing. "We're confident that our vaccine should work," Yu said.

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