Bangladesh has approved the human trial of a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine in the country, a move experts say will help develop skills needed for producing the vaccine locally.
Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) yesterday announced that the Institute of Medical Biology Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' vaccine candidate called Vero Cell was approved for human trials.
The trial could begin in just two weeks, officials said.
Icddr,b had earlier requested permission for carrying out the clinical trials of Vero Cell on people aged 18 and above.
BMRC Director Prof Ruhul Amin yesterday asked icddr,b to inform the council when and where the trial would begin so that the latter could monitor.
The council has yet to announce its decision about two other vaccine candidates awaiting approval.
The Chinese Academy and International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) signed an agreement in August 2020 on holding clinical trials.
The academy paid $10,48,846 to icddr,b for carrying out the trials and appointed One Pharma as its local agent.
Bangladesh has so far inoculated less than three percent of its population against the coronavirus. The country's vaccination campaign, which started on February 7, stumbled due to a lack of vaccine supply from the Serum Institute of India.
"The clinical trial of Vero Cell will begin in two weeks," KSM Mostafizur Rahman, managing director of One Pharma, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Prof ABM Farooque, former dean of pharmacy at Dhaka University, said the country would benefit from the trials.
He said lifestyle, climate, habit and people's behavior tend to be different from one country to the next. "If clinical trials are held in Bangladesh, we will be able to assess how the vaccine works on our population. We will be able to know its efficacy, how well it works, and what are its adverse effects."
Farooque added that the trial should follow the guidelines set by WHO. "Any deviation would not be acceptable."
Prof Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director of disease control at the health directorate, said, "If the trial is successful, the availability of the vaccine will be ensured.
"The government should have given the permission much earlier. But it's better late than never. It will develop expertise in producing vaccines, because the local experts will be engaged in the trial process," he said.
Vero Cell is an inactivated vaccine like those of polio and influenza. The third phase clinical trials of the vaccine took place in Malaysia in January this year.
Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech of India and Bangladesh's Globe Biotech last year sought permission for holding human trials.
Ruhul Amin said Globe Biotech might get the approval once it meets certain conditions set by the BMRC.
"We've yet to decide on Bharat Biotech's application," he said.