China's CanSino kicks off Phase III vaccine clinical trials in Russia
Published: Sep 02, 2020 08:52 PM

vaccine Photo:VCG

Phase III clinical trials on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics Inc and a team led by Chinese military expert Chen Wei has kicked off in Russia, the company announced on Wednesday, noting that they are at the same time promoting international clinical trials in several other places that would include more than 40,000 adult volunteers. 

The clinical trials in Russia are conducted with a local company named NPO Petrovax Pharm, which is one of the five major immunobiological producers in Russia, according to a statement CanSino sent to the Global Times. 

CanSino and Petrovax have received approval from the Russian health department and launched the trials to further verify the efficacy of the vaccine (Ad5-nCoV), which is part of CanSino's international clinical trial project, according to the statement. 

Vaccination of the volunteers participating in the trial in Russia is scheduled to be finished by the end of September and the results will be released by late autumn, Petrovax previously told the Global Times.

Wang Jing, CanSino's Chief Financial Officer (CFO), said at a forum in Hong Kong on Tuesday that a primary report on the Phase III trials would probably come out in three to six months. 

"It normally takes 10-20 years to develop a new vaccine, and we now are promoting development, production and provision at an unprecedented speed," Wang said, noting that the company pays much attention to the quality and safety of the vaccine along with the fast-paced development procedures.     

CanSino launched clinical trials on the vaccine in March in Wuhan and released results on Phase I and II trials in June, which proved the vaccine is safe and can provide immunity with only one injection. 

The vaccine also shows good stability and can be stored well in temperatures between 2-8 C, which means it's good for transportation, according to the company. 

Based on the positive results, the vaccine was approved as a special drug for the Chinese military in June and was issued a patent by the national authorities on August 11, becoming the first patented COVID-19 vaccine candidate in China. 

CanSino's international clinical trial project in total would include about 40,000 adult volunteers, the company said. 

Countries like Pakistan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia have announced that they were in negotiations with CanSino over cooperation on clinical trials.  

CanSino was supposed to start clinical trials in Canada in July. But the project has allegedly not started yet, and some foreign media speculated it was influenced by China-Canada tensions due to Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's extradition case.

In response, CanSino issued a clarification on August 27 that its cooperation with Canada had not ended yet.