KATHMANDU, Nov 7: The government is mulling over conducting phase III clinical trials of a possible COVID-19 vaccine being developed in China in Nepal.
Although the government initiated talks with several companies a few months ago, the process to bring a possible COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal was obstructed as health experts’ views were divided over the safety of the vaccine.
“Though the experts’ views are divided, the government has again started talks to bring a vaccine developed in China to conduct clinical trials in Nepal,” an official at the Nepal Health Research Council, told Republica.
Earlier in August, the NHRC had started preparations for clinical trials of investigational vaccines being developed against COVID-19 in Nepal. The Council had talked with three different companies to conduct vaccine trials in Nepal.
“The council was in the final stage to bring vaccines in Nepal, but the move was obstructed after health experts were divided over the safety of the vaccines,” the official said, adding that now the government has again initiated talks to bring the Chinese vaccine in Nepal.
“The government is holding discussions to bring in Coronavac – a vaccine produced by Sinovac Biotech – to conduct clinical trials in Nepal. The government had been continuously holding talks with the company to conduct the trials in Nepal,” the official added. The Sinovac Biotech has already started to conduct phase III trials of its vaccines in South America and Asia.
“The detailed information about bringing the vaccine in Nepal will be disclosed after further discussions,” the official said. Likewise, the government has also been holding talks with an Australian company for conducting clinical trials in Nepal.
“The Australian company is positive, but the talks have been on hold as bringing vaccines in Nepal is too expensive,” according to a government official.
Earlier, the NHRC held discussions to bring in Covidshield — a vaccine developed by Oxford University — to conduct trials in Nepal. Likewise, the Russian Embassy earlier was also positive to conduct phase III clinical trial of “Sputnik-V” – a possible vaccine developed against COVID-19 in Nepal. The Russian Embassy held several meetings with the government authorities concerned for the clinical trial of "Sputnik-V", but the vaccine wasn’t brought to Nepal.
According to the New York Times, Sinovac has been preparing to manufacture the vaccine for global distribution, reaching an agreement with Indonesia for the supply of at least 40 million doses by March 2021. “The company planned on worldwide distribution of the vaccine in early 2021 — including the United States,” Yin Weidong, the CEO of Sinovac, was quoted in the New York Times.
According to the World Health Organization, 11 vaccines developed in several parts of the world are in the third phase of clinical trials.