Some 6,000 people in Egypt will participate in phase 3 clinical trials of two Chinese coronavirus vaccines, a statement by the Health Ministry cited Minister Hala Zayed as saying, as part of an international effort to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Zayed said on Friday in remarks to the media that the two vaccines belong to a leading Chinese company in the field of vaccine manufacturing, but did not name the company.
According to the statement, the trials have been carried out in three other countries: Bahrain, the UAE and Jordan.
Zayed said volunteers will receive two injections, 21 days apart, and will be monitored over the year.
Volunteers take a PCR test to make sure they have not been infected with the virus, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in the statement.
Zayed said a national committee has been formed to supervise the clinical research. The committee will be headed by Mohamed Hassani, assistant health minister for public health initiatives, and will include professors at the ministry, the health services in the country’s Armed Forces, as well as the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Ministry of Justice and the Egyptian Drug Authority.
Phase 3 involves testing the efficacy and safety of the vaccine before it is licensed, and involves several thousands of volunteers.
Chinese state-owned bio-pharm company Sinopharm, through its China National Biotec Group (CNBG) unit, has two inactivated vaccines.
In July, Abu Dhabi-based G42 Healthcare and Sinopharm initiated phase 3 trials in the UAE, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported. A month later, the Bahraini Health Ministry said Sinopharm started phase 3 trials.
Also, phase 3 trials by Sinopharm’s CNBG have started in Morocco, Peru and Argentina.
CNBG trials are expected to include around 10 countries, with 50,000 people participating, CNBG vice president Zhang Yuntao said, adding that the unit is expected to produce 300 million doses of the vaccine annually, and may be able to raise production capacity to 1 billion doses.
In July, Zayed said that Egypt had secured 30 million doses of a promising British vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company specialised in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical fields. In September, however, she said final clinical trials were halted after a participant in the United Kingdom showed indications of an adverse reaction.
The Oxford vaccine is still subject to trials, but it has reached advanced stages in many countries and has reached the last phase of trials in Brazil.
In July, Egypt was selected by China to serve as a future African hub for manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine if one is developed by Beijing, the Egyptian health ministry said following a meeting with China’s Ambassador Liao Liqiang.
Egypt has so far reported 100,708 coronavirus cases and 5,607 deaths.