Thai trials of COVID-19 vaccine reach make-or-break stage

By Juarawee Kittisilpa
SARABURI, Thailand (Reuters) - Thai scientists gave a second dose of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine to monkeys on Monday, looking for another positive response to enable human clinical trials in October.
The Thai vaccine is one of at least 100 vaccines being worked on worldwide as the world is struck by a devastating virus that has infected more than 8.7 million people and killed 461,000 people. The 183,000 cases on Sunday were the highest in a single day.
Thirteen monkeys were vaccinated on Monday, and the next two weeks will be critical to whether researchers can continue testing.
"We will re-analyze the immune response. If the immune response is very, very high, this is a good one," said Kiat Ruxrungtham, lead researcher of the COVID-19 vaccine development program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
The Thai government supports the trials and hopes that an inexpensive vaccine will be manufactured domestically and ready for next year.
The monkeys are divided into three groups, one receiving a high dose, another a low dose and the last receiving none. You will receive a total of three injections, one month apart.
The first dose on May 23 led to positive reactions from all but one animal in the high dose group and three in the low dose group, a result that Kiat described as "very impressive".
If there is a similar reaction after the second dose, the program would order 10,000 doses for a human trial, Kiat added that his group had been flooded with volunteer offerings.
"The earliest we can get might be in late September," he said of the cans. "But we don't expect it as soon and in November at the latest."

(Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa; letter from Martin Petty; editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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