Coronavirus vaccine being tested in China could be tested in Canada soon

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Coronavirus outbreak: Looming war over a possible COVID-19 vaccine
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A coronavirus vaccine developed by a Chinese research team is in human trials in China, and researchers hope to soon test it in Canada, too, according to a press release from the National Research Council of Canada.

The vaccine, called Ad5-nCoV and developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and CanSino Biologics, was approved for Phase 1 human trials in China in mid-March. Now, the company is filling out the paperwork to get it approved for testing in Canada. Health Canada would have to approve the trial.

According to the press release, the vaccine is the first in the world to make it to the Phase 2 clinical trial stage, meaning that it presents no obvious major safety issues and will now be evaluated for its effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

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“It is one of only a handful of vaccine candidates in the world against COVID-19 so far approved for initial safety testing in humans,” the press release says.

“CanSino Biologics and the NRC are aiming to pave the way for future clinical trials in Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Immunization Research Network at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology,” the release reads.

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The vaccine candidate was developed using a line of cells from the NRC that has been used in the past to develop other vaccines, including one for Ebola.

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a UN Economic and Social Council video briefing Monday that the original thinking two months ago was that it may take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine. But he said an accelerated effort is underway, helped by 7.4 billion euros (C$11.2 billion) pledged a week ago by leaders from 40 countries, organizations and banks for research, treatment and testing.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Countries pledge €7.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutics says WHO'
Coronavirus outbreak: Countries pledge €7.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutics says WHO

He said the $11.2 billion will not be enough, and additional funds will be needed to speed up the development of a vaccine but also, more importantly, to produce enough “to make sure that this vaccine reaches everyone (and) there’s no one be left behind.”

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“We have good candidates now,” Tedros said. “The top ones are around seven, eight. But we have more than a hundred candidates.

“We are focusing on the few candidates we have which can bring probably better results and accelerating those candidates with better potential,” he said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— With files from the Associated Press

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