BEIJING (Reuters) – China has given the go-ahead for researchers to begin human safety tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the race to develop a shot against the COVID-19 epidemic that has killed more than 7,000 people worldwide.
Researchers at China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, – affiliated to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) -received approval to launch early-stage clinical trials of the potential vaccine starting this week, the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily reported on Tuesday.
Scientists in the United States said on Monday that clinical trials had begun for a vaccine developed by its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S. biotech firm Moderna.
Details in the Chinese clinical trial registration database show that a “Phase 1” test that will examine whether experimental shot is safe in humans aims to recruit 108 healthy people to take part between March 16 and December 31.
The trial will be conducted by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Biologics, the database showed.
Experts at the World Health Organization say they do not expect any fully tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of next year.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Gabriel Crossley; editing by Kate Kelland and John Stonestreet)