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Homegrown Vaccine Covivac Suspends Testing Due to Lack of Unvaccinated Volunteers

Citing a lack of unvaccinated volunteers for necessary human trials, the third phase of testing for Vietnam's Covivac COVID-19 vaccine has been indefinitely suspended.

A representative from the Nha Trang Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), which produced the vaccine in coordination with the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the Hanoi Medical University, announced earlier this week that the 4,000 necessary unvaccinated participants could not be found, and thus the trial has been suspended.

IVAC cites the current high rates of vaccination as a factor for the lack of volunteers. Nearly all eligible adults in Hanoi and other major cities have received at least one shot of any type of vaccine, while volunteers must be of certain demographics.

Initial testing phases of the vaccine candidate has been undertaken by the Hanoi Medical University since February, with nearly 600 volunteers. Early results show that Covivac generates good immune response among volunteers.

The third phase was expected to run through the end of the year, but no new timetable has been introduced for it. IVAC representatives suggest that they may shift their focus to testing the domestically produced Covivac vaccine as a booster shot for individuals who have already had two shots of a different vaccine.

Covivac was the second Vietnamese vaccine to enter the second stage of trials back in January. The first, Nanocovax, developed by Nanogen, is currently undergoing the third phase of clinical trials. ARCT-154, a vaccine produced by Vingroup with production technology from a US firm; a Spanish vaccine; and a Japanese vaccine are also all undergoing trials in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Russian-developed Sputnik V is being produced locally by Vabiotech. 

Vietnam has currently vaccinated 71 million people with at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot and nearly 51 million with two. Efforts in many cities to vaccinate children under 18 have also ramped up in recent weeks, though a third child recently died after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, causing concern amongst many Vietnamese families. 

[Photo by Phan Sáu via Vietnam+