Singapore’s first coronavirus vaccine trials could take place next month

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Scientists in Singapore are developing a coronavirus vaccine in the hope that early-stage clinical trials could take place as early as next month, according to a Duke-NUS Medical School professor.

Researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School are currently working on a vaccine that will be similar to that developed by the biotechnology company Moderna, but will be “more advanced”, Wang Linfa, professor and director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases program at Duke- La NUS Medical School told CNBC on Wednesday.

He added that he “hoped” that phase 1 clinical trials could start in one to two months.

Moderna’s vaccine reported positive data on Monday when it tested its first coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, a test kit developed by the medical school could be a game-changer in the fight against Covid-19 by detecting anti-coronavirus antibodies in an hour, according to a press release quoting Professor Patrick Casey, vice-dean principal research at Duke-NUS which was published last week.

The antibody test called cPass can determine if a person has already been infected with the coronavirus in an hour, instead of days, without the need for “living biological material” and a “biological containment facility”, according to the Press release.

This means that the test can be used in hospitals and most research laboratories or clinics.

The body produces many different types of antibodies when infected with a virus, but not all of them can neutralize the virus. cPass can measure these neutralizing bodies – the “most important antibodies,” said Wang, who also led the team that developed the test kit, on Wednesday. CNBC Street Signs Asia.

Antibody tests – also called serological tests – were used to link two Covid-19 clusters in Singapore in February.

The new test is not aimed at early and rapid detection, but rather aims to confirm the infection, said Wang.

This would allow its use in areas such as contact tracing and the assessment of herd immunity, thereby contributing to broader efforts in the fight against Covid-19.

Collective immunity refers to a situation where enough people in a population have become immune to a disease so that it effectively prevents the spread of the disease.

The test kit is now available in hospitals in Singapore after provisional authorization from local authorities and has obtained similar EU approval. Currently, it is awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, said Wang.

The test would be commercially available, but Wang said they were looking into how philanthropic and international organizations could help cut costs or distribute for free.

And at the same time, school scientists are also developing therapies.

“So you really have these 3 weapons to fight and fight Covid-19 – first class diagnostics, therapies and a vaccine, and we do them all,” added Wang.

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