DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh has approved an advanced stage trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese Sinovac Biotech Ltd in hopes of being a priority recipient of the vaccine, the health minister said on Thursday .
The national medical research agency gave ethical approval to the phase III trial last month, and now the government has approved the research.
The approval comes after Bangladesh said this month it was also ready to hold trials of potential COVID-19 vaccines developed by India as it seeks to stem the spread of the pandemic.
“We gave permission after reviewing all the necessary research protocols,” Bangladesh Minister of Health Zahid Maleque said of the Sinovac trial.
“We have already asked the WHO (World Health Organization) to obtain the vaccine as a priority,” said the minister.
The trial, which will be conducted by the International Diarrheal Diseases Research Center, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B), will begin soon, Maleque said.
The trial will involve 4,200 volunteers and half of them will be vaccinated, health officials said.
Bangladesh had 304,583 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday, with 4,127 deaths.
Indonesia and Brazil are also contributing to the Phase III trial as Sinovac sought volunteers outside China, where the number of coronavirus cases has declined.
Reporting by Ruma Paul; Edited by Alison Williams
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