TORONTO — A Chinese research team behind one of the few coronavirus vaccines already in clinical trials is collaborating with Canadian researchers to “pave the way” for future trials in the country.
According to a press release issued Tuesday from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), the vaccine is the first to enter the second phase of human clinical trials after it presented no major safety issues.
“It is one of only a handful of vaccine candidates in the world against COVID-19 so far approved for initial safety testing in humans,” the press release said.
The vaccine candidate, called Ad5-nCoV and developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and CanSino Biologics, was approved for human trials in China in mid-March. It is currently being evaluated for its effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.
The NRC said in the release that it would increase production for the vaccine at a government facility in Montreal and that CanSino Biologics was preparing a clinical trial application for Health Canada.
“CanSino Biologics and the NRC are aiming to pave the way for future clinical trials in Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Immunization Research Network at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology,” the release said.
CanSino’s vaccine was developed using a cell line from the NRC that was previously used to produce an Ebola vaccine among others, according to the agency. The two organizations have worked together since 2013.
“We’ve been in a committed partnership with the NRC for almost a decade. It is perfect timing to leverage cutting-edge technology and resources from both sides that are critical to the development of Ad5-nCoV,” CanSino Biologics CEO and Chairman Dr. Xuefeng Yu said in the release. “We are in this global public health emergency together, and a collaborative engagement could be the shortcut to help win this race against novel coronavirus disease.”
The vaccine is still in its early trials and it is not yet known whether it will work against the novel coronavirus. However, the collaboration could help ensure that Canadians will have access to a vaccine if it does.
“This vaccine candidate holds great promise. Until such time as there is an effective vaccine for COVID-19, the virus will continue to disrupt all aspects of our society and economy. The NRC is proud of our ongoing partnership with CanSino Biologics, and we are working hard to achieve success in this vital new collaboration,” NRC President Iain Stewart said in the release.
There is currently no accepted cure or vaccine for COVID-19.
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