Bangladesh has approved the third-phase trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, officials said on Monday, as infections continue to rise in the densely-populated South Asian country. Sinovac has been looking for volunteers outside of China as the number of coronavirus cases there has dwindled, said a member of Bangladesh's national technical advisory committee to tackle COVID-19.
The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), will conduct the trial that could begin next month. "We have given ethical permission for the trial after reviewing the research protocol," Mahmood Uz Jahan, director of the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC), told Reuters.
"The protocol given to BMRC by ICDDR,B will be applied to 4,200 volunteers. Half of them will get vaccinated." The trial would be conducted in seven COVID-19 hospitals in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, an ICDDR,B official said on the condition of anonymity.
The country had 204,525 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Sunday, with 2,618 deaths. Sinovac said this month it was starting Phase III trials of its potential coronavirus vaccine in Brazil.
A senior Bangladesh health ministry official said the country hoped to get priority in securing the vaccine should it prove effective in the trials.