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Covid-19: Clinical trials of triple-dose Chinese vaccine begin

KARACHI: Phase-III clinical trials of a triple-dose Chinese vaccine against Covid-19 have commenced at the University of Health Sciences (UHS), Lahore, and four other hospitals in Lahore as well as Faisalabad, officials said on Saturday, adding these trials would also commence at health facilities in Islamabad, Karachi and Jamshoro.

“Clinical trials of a three-dose Chinese vaccine, dubbed as ZF-2001 have commenced at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) and four other health facilities in Lahore. So far around 1,000 volunteers have been registered for the trials while the target is to involve 10,000 volunteers from all over the country,” Vice Chancellor, University of Health Sciences (UHS), Lahore Prof Javed Akram told The News on Saturday.

The UHS Lahore is conducting the Phase III clinical trials of second Chinese vaccine as earlier it conducted the clinical trials of single-dose Chinese vaccine Convidicia, developed by Cansino Biologicals Inc., which is now commercially available after it was found highly effective in preventing severe disease among people infected with SARS-CoV-2 or Coronavirus.

“The triple dose vaccine developed by the Chinse company Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Company Ltd is an excellent solution against Covid-19 which would prove to be effective against new strains and variants, including the Variant of Interest (VoI) and Variant of Concern (VoC),” Prof Javed Akram said, adding that the triple-dose vaccine would provide long lasting immunity against the Covid-19.

“There is a concern that immunity generated by the single dose vaccines may reduce or vanish overtime, but in the case of a triple-dose vaccine, which would be administered after one month’s interval, long-lasting immunity could be achieved,” he added.

Prof Javed Akram, who is the Principal investigator of the trials, said it is the Phase-III Clinical Trial of Recombinant Coronavirus vaccine (CHO Cell) to determine its safety and efficacy among people and added that around 29,000 volunteers would be recruited worldwide, including 10,000 in Pakistan. These trials are expected to be completed by the middle or end of next year, he said.

“The manufacturer, Anhui Zhifei Biopharmaceutical, however, can apply for the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) earlier based on the interim results and data and it would be up to the expert committee and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to allow the use of vaccine among general public or not, he added.

Prof Shehnoor Azhar, an Assistant Professor of Public Health at UHS Lahore, said it is multi-center trial which is being conducted at Avicenna Medical College and Hospital, Central Park Medical College and Hospital, National Defence Hospital Lahore, Aziz Fatima Hospital Faisalabad, PIMS Islamabad, Indus Hospital, Karachi as well as Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi.

“In addition to clinical trials in Pakistan in collaboration, we have also shown our intention to set up a manufacturing plant in Pakistan if necessary facilitation and support is offered by the authorities in Pakistan,” said Maria Song, Senior Manager of Clinical Team of Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co Ltd. while talking to The News.

Maria Song said their vaccine is already available in China and Uzbekistan, adding that they also got orders from Tajikistan and Russia they will first provide their vaccines to China and Uzbekistan.

To a query, she said their team was working in Pakistan as monitors and added that they will apply for the Emergency Use Authorization when DRAP think they meet its conditions. “We will be satisfied when we reach our aim, but we really appreciate our local investigator’s hard working,” she added.

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