Thailand targets homegrown mRNA COVID-19 vaccine rollout by end-2022

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Thailand may start rolling out its first locally-developed COVID-19 vaccine that deploys the same technology used by Pfizer Inc. by the end of this year after successfully concluding its human trials, the government said.

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Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University, which has developed the vaccine, will submit the results of the trials to the Thai Food and Drug Administration soon for approval, Traisuree Taisaranakul, a government spokeswoman, said in a statement Saturday.

The first batch of the vaccine, named ChulaCov19, was found to be safe in clinical trials and produced more immunity than the Pfizer shots approved for use in Thailand, she said.

The mRNA shots would be produced locally by Thailand-based vaccine manufacturer BioNet-Asia Co., which can manufacture 20 million doses annually.

While researchers in Thailand are developing more than a dozen COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to cut reliance on foreign supplies, Chulalongkorn’s shot is the most advanced.

Thailand is already home to AstraZeneca Plc’s only manufacturing facility in Southeast Asia through a partnership with Siam Bioscience Pcl., and supplies vaccines to countries including Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Thailand has seen its omicron-fueled COVID-19 wave ease in recent days with new cases averaging about 8,000 a day from a peak of almost 30,000 in early April. The decline in cases has allowed the tourism-reliant Southeast Asian country to scrap COVID-19 testing requirements and quarantine for foreign arrivals.

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