On Tuesday, Brazilian health officials launched a three-month test of a coronavirus vaccine developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac - one of only a handful worldwide that is entering late-phase trials to prove its efficacy.
At a press conference, Dimas Covas, president of the Butantan Institute coordinating the test, disclosed that if the drug proves safe and effective, the government will get 120 million doses from China at the start of 2021, allowing 30 million Brazilians to be administered with the treatment.
The vaccine is among almost two dozen potential drugs globally that are in different phases of human clinical trials. It became the third in the world to commence with Phase 3 clinical tests, or large-scale testing on humans -- the final procedure before being granted regulatory approval.
A 27-year-old doctor who was given the first shot of the vaccine at the Clinical Hospital of Sao Paulo said "we are living in unique and historic times, and that is the reason why I wanted to be part of this test," the Khaleej Times quoted the doctor as saying in its report.
Some 9,000 health staff across six Brazilian regions will be given the drug, known as CoronaVac, in two doses over the next three months under the trials. Joao Doria, governor of Sao Paulo, on Monday, disclosed that preliminary results were estimated within 90 days.
Brazil's increasing coronavirus cases makes it very crucial for testing whether a potential drug works in widespread infections of the disease. It is the second heavily-impacted nation in the pandemic, next to the United States. The country's Ministry of Health stated that Brazil has now registered over 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 80,120 fatalities.
Brazil is also working on a trial for coronavirus drugs produced in tandem between Oxford University and biotech giant AstraZeneca, and government authorities authorized on Tuesday trials for a third vaccine produced by BioNTech and Pfizer.
Research released by British medical journal The Lancet on Monday found two potential drugs were safe and produced an immune response during second-stage clinical tests: the Oxford and another Chinese-produced vaccine, developed by biotech group CanSino Biologics in partnership with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh's federal health research agency has approved a third-stage test of a potential coronavirus drug developed by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, as new cases soar in the densely-packed South Asian nation.
Sinovac has been in the hunt for volunteers outside China as the number of COVID-19 infections there has gone down, a member of Bangladesh's national technical advisory panel fighting the virus, disclosed.