Mexico City, Apr 13 (EFE).- Mexico’s government on Tuesday announced the start of clinical trials for a domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine and said it expects it will be authorized for emergency use late this year.
“If everything goes as we expect, at the end of this year we’d have a Mexican vaccine” ready for emergency-use approval by health regulator Cofepris, said Maria Elena Alvarez-Buylla, director general of the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt).
The Conacyt chief said during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s regular morning press conference that between 90 and 100 volunteers in Mexico City will be recruited for clinical trials of the so-called Patria vaccine, which has been developed jointly by the Avimex laboratory and the Mexican government.
The Newcastle disease virus – which is harmless to human beings, according to Alvarez-Buylla – was used to develop that vector vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and already has been tested successfully on rodents and pigs.
Mexican authorities are planning for the three phases of the clinical trials to each take two months and be conducted between April and September, while emergency use approval by Cofepris is expected to occur some time in November or December.
“The three phases of clinical trials still remain, where there’s also uncertainty, but we’re very solidly confident that a Mexican vaccine will be developed that allows us to defend ourselves against Covid-19,” the Conacyt director-general said.
Reaching the clinical trial phase is already a significant achievement that occurs with only between 10 and 20 percent of vaccine candidates, Alvarez-Buylla said.
A group of respected scientists were involved in the development of the Patria vaccine, including Constantino Lopez Macias, Peter Palese, Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, Florian Krammer, Felipa Castro and Martha Torres Rojas, the Conacyt chief said.
Several Mexican universities have been working to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. But the Mexican government decided to back Patria (Fatherland), a name chosen by Lopez Obrador in allusion to the Cuba’s home-grown Soberana 02 (Sovereign 02) vaccine.
Mexico has registered more than 2.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 209,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19, third-most worldwide after the United States and Brazil.
Mexico was one of the first countries globally to launch a vaccine rollout, beginning that process last Christmas Eve.
Since then, a total of 11.8 million doses have been administered and 2.3 million people – mostly the elderly and health care personnel – have received the two-dose series required for full immunization.
A country home to 126 million inhabitants, Mexico has received vaccines developed by American-German partnership Pfizer-BioNTech, British partners AstraZeneca-University of Oxford, China’s Sinovac and CanSino and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. EFE