BANGKOK (NNT) – A trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in monkeys has been successful, with the subjects showing higher immune responses. Researchers are now gearing up for human clinical trials in October, with production starting in mid-2021.

A study of a COVID-19 vaccine prototype in monkeys, performed by the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) and Chulalongkorn University’s National Primate Research Center of Thailand, has been successful, according to the NRCT.

This experimental mRNA vaccine had first been successfully tested in rats, while the tests in monkeys started on 23 May.

The Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, Suvit Maesincee, said all the monkeys that received the vaccine show no negative side effects, while their blood tests show a satisfactory level of the antibody triggered by the vaccine.

The monkeys, at the National Primate Research Center, have been injected with the vaccine once. Researchers will today administer the second dose for further study. Should all go well, the clinical trial of this vaccine candidate in humans can begin in October and November this year.

The NRCT Secretary General Dr. Sirirurg Songsivilai said the monkeys will be tested periodically for their immune responses after receiving the second dose of vaccine, with their antibody level expected to increase over the next two weeks, while the third dose will be administered in August.

He said this research project is now progressing on track, with the target to start producing a viable COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand in mid-2021.

The National Primate Research Center Director Suchinda Malaivijitnond said the experimental vaccine has shown no negative side effects in recipient monkeys with no fever, or symptoms in the neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory or digestive systems.

The monkeys are showing normal behaviour, which is a good sign that this vaccine prototype would be safe for use in humans.

She said the project shows the world-class capabilities of vaccine researchers and development projects in Thailand.

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