Russia may soon win the race in preparing vaccines for the coronavirus when the head of a top research centre told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that his lab was ready to start human trials of experimental coronavirus vaccines in June.
Rinat Maksyutov, head of the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Centre, said his facility proposed first-phase clinical trials of three vaccines from June 29, on 180 volunteers.
Maksyutov was speaking during a video-link meeting between Putin and the heads of top research centres.
“Groups of volunteers have already been formed,” he told Putin, adding that a lot of people wanted to take part in the trials.
“We have already received more than 300 applications.”
Maksyutov said scientists at the top-secret lab complex located in Koltsovo outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk had developed several prototype vaccines.
Tests were currently underway on mice, rabbits and other animals to determine the most promising by April 30, he said.
Russia ready to start testing Coronavirus vaccines on humans in June https://t.co/s3MsUGjBoR
— Republic (@republic) April 8, 2020
Vektor planned pre-clinical studies by June 22 before launching the testing in humans, Maksyutov added.
But the first human trials could begin in May “if the health ministry allows it”.
Vektor has vaccine platform technologies that have already been tested in humans for other infections and could be used for the coronavirus, he added.
The Vektor laboratory complex conducted secret biological weapons research in the Soviet era and stockpiles viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.
Vaccine test on animals
Earlier these vaccines were tested on animals by the institute that showed satisfactory results upto some extent.
Scientists in the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Centre in the city of Novosibirsk have developed vaccine prototypes based on six different technological platforms and began tests on Monday to try to work out how effective they are and in what doses they could be administered, the regulator said.
Scientists around the world have warned that the development of a vaccine is a lengthy and complex process that might only yield something for broader use in the next 12-18 months.
“Most often, laboratory mice and rats are used for such studies, ferrets, lower primates and other special lines of laboratory animals are also used,” the Russian regulator, Rospotrebnadzor, said in a statement.
Russia on Tuesday reported 7,497 coronavirus cases and 58 fatalities but the real number of infections is believed to be much higher.
AFP with additional input from GVS News Desk.