Taiwan may enter clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine by year-end: CECC

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Five research facilities and biotechnology companies in Taiwan are currently developing vaccines for the COVID-19 coronavirus, most of which are expected to enter clinical trials by the end of this year, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday.

In addition to the government-run National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) and Academia Sinica, three biotech companies are developing the vaccines, said NHRI President Liang Kung-yee (梁賡義), who is also a CECC member.

The NHRI could begin human trials in autumn at the earliest, looking into four categories of vaccines through the use of peptides, DNA engineering, recombinant viruses and antigen-based subunit vaccines, he said.

Academia Sinica is also improving a nanotechnology-based vaccine it has developed, Liang went on, adding that the three companies, which are running subunit vaccines, could begin clinical trials by the end of 2020.

In terms of medicine, he said, the NHRI is preparing for animal trials using an antibody that targets broad-spectrum coronavirus.

Academia Sinica has also found ways to suppress the virus through the use of protease inhibitor, he said.

Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), CECC head and minister of health and welfare, said Taiwan has the capacity to produce 1 million vaccines by the end of this year, but whether they will be usable will depend on their level of protection and safety.