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CanSino to start Phase III trial of COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi

FILE PHOTO: Chinese vaccine maker CanSino Biologics' sign is pictured on its building in Tianjin, China November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will soon begin Phase III clinical trials on around 5,000 people for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s CanSino Biologics Inc, a Saudi health ministry spokesman said on Sunday.

Last month, CanSino’s co-founder said the company was in talks with Russia, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia to launch a Phase III trial of the vaccine candidate, Ad5-nCOV.

The vaccine uses a harmless cold virus known as adenovirus type-5 (Ad5) to carry genetic material from the coronavirus into the body.

Researchers said last month that CanSino’s vaccine, co-developed with China’s military research unit, appeared to be safe and induced immune responses in most subjects.

Saudi Arabia plans to test the vaccine alongside a placebo on 5,000 volunteers and is currently preparing trials in the cities of Riyadh, Dammam and Mecca, Saudi state news agency SPA said on Saturday.

No COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for commercial use.

CanSino’s candidate became the first in China to move into human testing in March but other potential vaccines developed by Sinovac Biotech and a unit of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) have already been approved for Phase III trials overseas.

Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir; Writing by Yousef Saba; editing by David Evans

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