Ministry of Health Seeks THB3 Billion for Vaccine Development
Published: September 14, 2020 at 6:33 pm
The Ministry of Health will ask the Cabinet for an additional THB3 billion to fund vaccine R&D.
Thailand is getting ready to scale up its medical sector’s efforts to develop its own vaccine against the COVID-19 virus that’s currently ravaging the entire globe, leaving economic turmoil in its wake.
In order to make this possible, the Ministry of Public Health under Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is seeking the Cabinet’s approval for a THB3 billion budget to fund this endeavor.
This week, the Minister sat down with researchers from the Department of Medical Sciences, the National Vaccine Institute, as well as representatives from various state agencies, universities and private companies that are involved in vaccine development.
During the meeting, it was learned that the vaccine being developed in the Kingdom is ready to undergo human trials sometime in the final quarter of the year.
Minister Anutin then said that his Ministry will be meeting with the Cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and seek approval for an additional THB3 billion to continue supporting the ongoing research and development of the COVID-19 vaccine by the NVI.
This is on top of the THB1 billion that had already been approved by the government to fund the technology transfer for the vaccine, and any needs by the NVI for R&D.
The country is currently developing three potential vaccines for the treatment of COVID-19.
One of these vaccines, NVI Director Dr. Nakorn Premsri, is a virus-like particle vaccine – a vaccine containing particles that mimic viruses to stimulate the immune system, but without the viral genome that allows replication of virus DNA. This is developed by the Faculty of Medicine of Siriraj Hospital.
The second vaccine is the subunit vaccine, whose research and development are being undertaken by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Chulalongkorn University.
Currently in the animal testing phase, these two vaccines will be turned over to the Government Pharmaceutical Organization to make sure that they meet good manufacturing practice requirements once positive results are observed from the clinical trials.
The third vaccine is developed by the NVI itself in collaboration with the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
This type of vaccine is a killed-vaccine, made from virus particles whose deadly capabilities have been attenuated or removed from its genetic structure. In this case, the NVI and BIOTEC used a blend of the influenza virus and genetically engineered severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.
Dr. Nakorn said that results should be seen by the end of this year or early in 2021.
Government officials have started early on that vaccine development is essential to the country’s economic recovery. Medical experts are also of the opinion that the government should delay the reopening of the country to foreign tourism until after a vaccine has been approved and made available globally.
Foreign tourism have been a major contributor to Thailand’s economy, and the lockdown imposed as a result of the pandemic has affected the industry negatively. Krungthai COMPASS, a research center managed by the Krungthai Bank, reported last week that tourism revenues will shrink 70% at the end of 2019.