BANGKOK – The Director-General of the Department of Medical Sciences, Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, said that Thailand now has a team working towards the development of vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The team comprises members from various institutions, led by the National Vaccine Institute (NVI).
The NVI Director, Dr. Nakorn Premsri, explained that vaccine development involves the synthesizing of ribonucleic acid (RNA), deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or fragments of the virus. An experimental vaccine can then be tested on hamsters or monkeys to see if it has any effect on the immune system. There are three phases of clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine. The first phase focuses on safety, with about 30 to 50 volunteers. The next phase focuses on stimulating the immune system, involving 100 to 150 people. The third phase involves at least 500 volunteers to determine its effectiveness. If the vaccine is effective, the team will submit it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval.
Meanwhile, the United States (US), China and England have made the most progress in vaccine development, having completed the first two phases. There are six vaccines against COVID-19 in development.
Thailand has three options for using vaccines. The first option is to develop and produce a vaccine in the country, which is currently under way. The second option is to cooperate with foreign countries that already have a vaccine and are testing it on humans. This alternative will enable Thailand to acquire it faster than other countries. The third choice is to wait for other countries to come up with a vaccine and then import it. In that instance, Thailand would have to wait longer and the price could be very high. (NNT)