With Thailand expected to begin human trials of its potential coronavirus vaccine this year, the Ministry of Public Health will seek the cabinet’s approval for a 3-billion-baht budget to support vaccine development and technology transfer in the country.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, chaired a meeting this week to discuss COVID-19 vaccine development in Thailand. Representatives and researchers from the Department of Medical Sciences, the National Vaccine Institute (NVI), state agencies, universities and private companies participated in the meeting to exchange views and information on current research into a COVID-19 vaccine.
Mr. Anutin said the government is facilitating COVID-19 vaccine development in cooperation with many sectors. Recently, it approved a 1-billion-baht budget to support the NVI’s work and to instigate a technology transfer for the vaccine in the country. Furthermore, the Ministry of Public Health will seek the cabinet’s approval for a budget of 3 billion baht to support ongoing COVID-19 vaccine research and development.
The NVI Director, Dr. Nakorn Premsri, said there are two types of vaccines being developed to combat COVID-19. They are virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines, developed by the Faculty of Medicine of Siriraj Hospital, and subunit vaccines, developed by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Chulalongkorn University. If both types of vaccine can be shown to stimulate the immune system of tested animals, the expertise and technology will be transferred to the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), so that the vaccines used in clinical trials meet the good manufacturing practice (GMP) requirements. The agency is also working with the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) in developing a killed-vaccine by using genetically engineered severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS COV 2) and influenza viruses. If successful, they will be used to produce more vaccines. The results of the three vaccine developments should be known this year or at the beginning of 2021. The NVI will consider funds for other researchers, with support from the academic committee. (NNT)