Egypt starts phase 3 trials of 2 Chinese coronavirus vaccines: Health minister

Al Ahram - Egypt is carrying out phase 3 trials of two Chinese coronavirus vaccines starting Saturday, Egypt’s health minister Hala Zayed said. The vaccines exhibited successful results during trials in other countries, she added. Phase three is concerned with testing the efficacy and safety of a vaccine before it is licensed and it usually involves several thousands of volunteers.

Zayed told the media the two vaccines belong to a leading Chinese company in the field of vaccine manufacturing, without providing the name of the company. She added that phase 3 trials of the two vaccines in Egypt are part of a protocol adopted by several countries, including the United Arab Emirates. 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 on its soil.

Phase 3 trials by Sinopharm’s CNBG started in Morocco, Jordan, Peru, and Argentina as well. Zayed did not provide the number of volunteers in the trials, but it is expected further details will be revealed in a health ministry statement after the first day of trials. CNBG trials are expected to include around 10 countries, as 50,000 people may participate, CNBG vice president Zhang Yuntao said, adding that the unit is expected to produce 300 million doses of the vaccine annually, and may become able to raise production capacity to a billion doses.

In July, Zayed said Egypt has secured 30 million doses of a promising English vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company specialised in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical fields. She referenced a pause in final clinical trials of the vaccine in September after a participant showed a suspected adverse reaction in the United Kingdom.

The Oxford vaccine is still subject to trials, but it has reached advanced stages in many countries and the final phase of trials in Brazil. Egypt in July has been 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 between Zayed and China’s Ambassador Liao Liqiang.

The Egyptian health ministry’s national vaccination centre, VACSERA, and a Chinese company will carry out trials to develop a vaccine to pave the way for manufacturing it in Egypt once it is proven effective. Egypt has so far reported 100,708 coronavirus cases and 5,607 deaths.