Trump willing to work with China on COVID-19 vaccine for US

President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping of China shake hands at the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.
Image Credit: The New York Times

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump expressed a willingness to work with China or other countries to bring a successful coronavirus vaccine to the United States, despite rising tensions between Beijing and Washington.

“We’re willing to work with anybody that is going to get us a good result,” Trump said, when asked if the administration would collaborate with China on a vaccine for Americans, whether China is first to develop one or not. ​

The remarks on Tuesday came a day after researchers said a vaccine against the coronavirus developed by China’s CanSino Biologics Inc and China’s military research unit appeared to be safe and induced immune responses in most subjects in a closely-watched mid-stage study.

The CanSino candidate is one of a handful of vaccines that have shown some promise in early human testing. Others gearing up for such trials include vaccines from US-based Moderna Inc and Germany’s BioNTech SE, in partnership with American drugmaker Pfizer Inc.

Data from a combined early/midstage trial of a vaccine candidate being developed by researchers at the University of Oxford and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca was also released on Monday (July 20).

Trump has long blamed China for mishandling the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and charged across the United States, killing more than 140,000 Americans and raising the stakes for a quick and viable vaccine.

“I think we’re going to have some very good results. We’re already in testing. Nobody thought that would be possible,” he said. “I think you’re going to see something over the next fairly short period of time — maybe very short period of time — having to do with therapeutics and vaccines that are very good,” he said.

Chinese COVID-19 vaccine starts final tests in Brazil

Meanwhile, a Chinese-made vaccine against the new coronavirus entered the final stage of testing Tuesday in Brazil, where volunteers received the first doses of what officials hope will be a game-changer in the pandemic.

The vaccine, developed by private Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac, became the third in the world to enter Phase 3 clinical trials, or large-scale testing on humans — the last step before regulatory approval.

“We’re living in unique and historic times, and that’s why I wanted to be part of this trial,” said the 27-year-old doctor who received the first dose at the Clinical Hospital of Sao Paulo.

Her name was withheld for confidentiality.

Around 9,000 health workers across six Brazilian states will receive the vaccine, known as CoronaVac, in two doses over the next three months under the study.

Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria said Monday initial results were expected within 90 days.

Sinovac is partnering with a Brazilian public health research center, the Butantan Institute, on the trials.

120 million doses

If the vaccine proves safe and effective, the institute will have the right to produce 120 million doses under the deal, according to officials.

Brazil is the second-hardest-hit country in the coronavirus pandemic, after the United States. Its death toll surpassed 80,000 Monday, and it has registered 2.1 million infections.

Because the virus is still spreading quickly in the South American country, it is seen as an ideal testing ground for vaccine candidates.

Oxford vaccine trial in Brazil

Brazil is also helping carry out Phase 3 testing of another experimental vaccine, developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.

It has a similar deal to produce that vaccine domestically if it is successful in tests, which are also being carried out in Britain and South Africa.

Another vaccine, developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm, also entered Phase 3 trials this month in the United Arab Emirates.

Studies published Monday in British medical journal The Lancet found two vaccine candidates were safe and produced an immune response in Phase 2 trials: the Oxford vaccine and another Chinese-made vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics together with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology.

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