Tests on mice showed a high level of antibodies as the modern vaccine prototype developed by Thai scientists and medical experts moves forward to be tested on monkeys. There are already government plans in place to manufacture the vaccine for Thai citizens if clinical human trials prove successful. The PM is urging those involved with the project to accelerate progress.
Thailand is reporting that its project to develop a vaccine has advanced to the next stage after encouraging tests on mice, screened by the University of Pennsylvania, showed strong levels of antibodies. The next stage in this process will be a test on monkeys before advancing to human trials. The research and development project for a national vaccine is being driven at high speed at the behest of the prime minister. The news on the initial success of the vaccine prototype was revealed this week by the Minister of Higher Education Science Research and Technology, Suvit Maesincee. The project, which is spearheaded by the Chulalongkorn University Vaccine Centre and key government agencies, aims to produce a vaccine in large quantities for use by the Thai population.
Thailand reported positive progress on Thursday in its efforts to develop a vaccine against the Covid 19 virus and so help block the transmission of the disease in the kingdom.
Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, Suvit Maesincee, revealed that tests on mice using an advanced mRNA prototype vaccine had produced antibody levels for the virus as high as 1:3000. The results of the test were screened and processed by the University of Pennsylvania.
Prototype vaccine to be tested on monkeys next week
The minister disclosed that the next stage of the process would be to test the vaccine on monkeys.
This is due to take place next week.
If this proves successful, then the vaccine will be produced for human testing by vaccine manufacturers in both Canada and the United States.
Human testing after vaccine batches are produced
This will be a prelude to human testing.
The US biotech firm, Moderna, tested a vaccine on human beings in recent weeks with reports on Tuesday suggesting extremely positive results at generating antibodies and warding off infection.
However, many scientists are still wary of these results and have called for access to the full data.
A similar promising study on a vaccine developed in the UK that demonstrated clearly that it was successful at protecting monkeys from lung infection, however, also showed that there were strong viral loads in the animal’s nose areas which were just as high as those in monkeys who had not been dosed.
The secondary health effects of this tricky virus must also be addressed by an effective vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine is being developed in association with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) which is based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Thai vaccine being developed by Chulalongkorn University Vaccine Centre and government agencies
In Thailand, the prototype vaccine has been developed by the Chulalongkorn University Vaccine Centre and if the subsequent tests are successful, the team behind the new treatment are planning to work with Bionet Asia, a Thai firm, to manufacture the drug in large quantities, using new, imported overseas production technologies.
PM exhorts those working on the project to make progress as quickly as possible as he meets top brass
The Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, has given the project top priority and has exhorted those involved to speed up progress.
The Chulalongkorn Centre is working with the National Institute of Vaccines and the Department of Medical Sciences.
It comes as the PM also met top military officers this week and briefed them on the Covid 19 emergency which he said was ‘wreaking havoc on people from all walks of life’ in Thailand.
Other countries also working on a plan to vaccinate their populations to permanently halt the virus
The aim, as for other countries working on similar projects such as the UK, Germany, the United States, China and Canada is to roll out a vaccine to the population as soon as possible to defeat the transmission of the disease permanently on a widespread basis.
Ten vaccines already at the stage of human trials and testing, many show promising initial results
It is being reported that there are currently ten vaccines already that have reached the stage of human testing and most are reporting promising results although scientists warn that the vaccines must be tested to see if they provide protection to all parts of the human anatomy against the disease and its side effects.
The Moderna test last week used a light, medium and heavy dose on its trials.
The firm, however, did report some side effects with the heavy dose but were so pleased by the level of antibodies in the medium and light doses of the vaccine that they saw no need for it.
Decision on the state of emergency due after cabinet meeting next Tuesday as an extension looks more likely
Meanwhile, Thailand’s cabinet will decide definitively next Tuesday on whether the state of emergency due to expire on May 31st will be extended.
It had looked like, up to this week, that the measure would expire but it appears that security agencies reviewing the situation have had a change of heart.
Ad-hoc committee now recommends an extension to June 30th given the worrying global situation
The Secretary-General of the National Security Council, General Somsak Rungsita, was reported on Thursday as saying that an ad hoc committee that he chairs to advise the government has now recommended that the state of emergency be extended until June 30th.
The committee cited that one of the reasons for this is the global situation where the virus has now taken over 330,000 lives with a continued rise in infections. It described this as worrisome.
The committee also felt that there need to be at least 14 days to monitor the second stage of easing which only went ahead on May 17th.
Success so far due to lockdown measures
There have been no infections reported in some of the most recent days with figures consistently in single digits.
The committee was clear that the lull of infections in the last week was due to the lockdown measures and the public’s continued cooperation with the government’s advice.
On Thursday, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced 3 more new infections bringing the total to 3,037.
There were no new deaths, leaving the total at 56.
German man who travelled to meet his Thai wife in Chaiyaphum tests positive for the virus on return
One of these reported infections was a German man who had travelled to Chaiyaphum province between the end of April and mid-May to meet his Thai wife.
It is reported that he also visited a shopping centre in the area recently before returning home on May 16th.
The German was due to return to work on Monday and started with a health checkup at a hospital in Bangkok. He tested positive for the disease even though he had no symptoms.
He told doctors that one of his relatives in Chaiyaphum had displayed symptoms of the disease around May 8th.
It is also thought that he may have contracted the disease through his visit to the shopping centre.
‘His infection possibly happened in Chaiyaphum after the business lockdown was relaxed,’ said Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin of the government’s Covid 19 centre on Thursday.
Elderly man with diabetes and lung cancer confirmed as suffering from the disease after a barbershop visit
The second case was an elderly Thai man with diabetes and lung cancer.
He attended a barbers shop at Prachachuen Road in the Bang Sue area of Bangkok on May 14th and after developing symptoms reported to hospital on May 18th for a test.
The third case was a 25-year-old Thai woman who returned from an educational trip to the Philippines on May 13th and was taken into quarantine.
She tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, May 19th.
Business reopening process kept under review
While the government and key agencies are still wary of a 2nd wave and have taken decisions such as the extension of the inward flights ban to Thailand, authorities are still confident that the measures taken have worked even as they keep the steady stream of reopening steps under review.
‘Thailand has passed through its first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak and since the government imposed the night-time curfew and a business lockdown, the number of daily new cases has been declining,’ Dr Taweesilp assured the public on Thursday.