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COVID vaccines

Vietnam kicks off trials for second homegrown vaccine candidate

Country's first coronavirus inoculation is headed for emergency approval in May

HANOI -- Vietnam has begun first-phase clinical trials for its second domestically developed coronavirus vaccine just months before the expected approval of the initial homegrown candidate.

Some 120 volunteers ages 18-59 will receive doses of Covivac, with a second shot administered after a 28-day window.

The Phase 1 trials will conclude by April 20, according to local media. An interim report is due in July, and all trials are to be finished by the end of the year.

Vietnam's first candidate, Nanocovax, started Phase 2 trials in late February. If proven effective, it could receive emergency approval by the government as early as May.

Nanocovax is being developed by startup Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in collaboration with Vietnam Military Medical University, an institution under the Defense Ministry. The Institute for Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, which is under the country's Health Ministry, is responsible for the second candidate.

Meanwhile, groups developing two other domestic candidates look to enter first-phase trials.

Vietnam started mass vaccinations March 8 using the shot developed by British-based company AstraZeneca. Over 24,000 people in the health care field have been inoculated.

Germany, France and other European countries have suspended AstraZeneca vaccinations following incidents of recipients forming potentially deadly blood clots, though no link to the inoculation has been confirmed. Vietnam will continue the vaccine rollout, citing the lack of reported cases of post-injection blood clots within the country.

Vietnamese officials are considering procuring vaccines from Russia. The Health Ministry said Tuesday that Russia donated 1,000 doses of its Sputnik V vaccine.

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