Thailand is conducting tests on macaque monkeys as it races to produce a cheaper, alternative Coronavirus vaccine.
A top Researcher disclosed this on Monday, May 25, 2020, with a relief that the vaccine will be ready by 2021.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 100 candidate vaccines are currently in various stages of development around the world, at least eight of which are in clinical trials with humans.
Oxford University researchers are considered the frontrunners in the race, starting clinical trials last month on a version based on a different virus that causes infections in chimpanzees.
The Director of the National Primate Research Center of Thailand, Dr Suchinda Malaivitjitnond, who oversaw Saturday’s vaccine injections to an initial group of 13 monkeys, said she hoped a “Made in Thailand” vaccine would be cheaper than a European or American drug.
The researchers said testing phase on the macaque monkeys came after trials on mice were successful.
Channels TV reports that they are working in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania in the US using new technology based on mRNA, a type of genetic material never before used to make a vaccine.
The process entails injecting a short sequence of viral genetic material to trigger an immune response by producing proteins acting against the virus.
At least two other Companies are developing vaccines using the same technology, with one of them reporting positive preliminary results last week from clinical trials.
Thailand was the first Country outside of China to detect an infection in mid-January but has so far reported just over 3,000 cases and 57 deaths.
The Chair of the Chula Vaccine Research Center at Chulalongkorn University, Dr Kiat Ruxrungtham, said if the tests on the macaques go well, human trials should start in October.