The Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) has given the go-ahead to Phase 3 trial of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech.
The vaccine will be applied to around 4,200 healthcare workers of seven Covid-19 dedicated hospitals in Dhaka during the trial period, according to sources.
BMRC Director Mahmood Uz Jahan said 50 percent of the participants will be vaccinated.
"If the trial succeeds, Bangladesh will be in a pole position to get the vaccine for free or at a cheap price," he said.
The healthcare workers of Mugda General Hospital, Dhaka Medical College Hospital Burn Unit-1, Kurmitola General Hospital, Holy Family Red Crescent Medical College Hospital, Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Hospital, Dhaka Medical College Hospital Unit-2, and Dhaka Mahanagar Hospital will participate in the trial.
International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDRB) will conduct the trial. It is likely to begin in August, according to sources.
"We have approved the trial of Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccine in Bangladesh. And ICDDRB has teamed up with Sinovac," Mahmood Uz Jahan said on Sunday.
"ICDDRB wanted to conduct a trial of Covid-19 vaccine in Bangladesh. However, BMRC can only give policy approval for any trial. As the organisation sought permission for this trial, we approved its proposal after examining it.
"Initially ICDDRB will sit with the select Covid-19 dedicated public hospital authorities to decide on the mode of starting the trial and participant selection, " Mahmood said.
"Also, approval or permission of the Directorate General of Drug Administration and the Directorate General of Health Services will be required at different stages of the trial."
"ICDDRB is in the process of completing other formalities with Sinovac and Bangladeshi authorities. The strategic plan has been finalised but we will have to decide on who will get the vaccine for the trial," an icddr,b official said.
Inactivated vaccines are well known and have been used against diseases such as influenza and measles.
Sinovac had initiated the development of the inactivated vaccine CoronaVac against Covid-19 in January this year.
The company got the approval to conduct its Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in China that began in April.
Several countries including Brazil already approved its Phase 3 clinical trial to test the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.
The vaccine is being developed by a Beijing-based unit of Nasdaq-listed Sinovac and by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group.
Earlier, Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm began Phase 3 clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine in Abu Dhabi using up to 15,000 volunteers.
Also, more than 140 teams of researchers across the world are racing to develop vaccines against Covid-19.
Of them, only two teams in the UK and China are showing strong hope.
Oxford University is leading the world in developing a vaccine. Its vaccine is in a combined Phase 2 or 3 trial in the UK and recently went into Phase 3 trials in South Africa and Brazil.
The project may deliver emergency vaccines by October, according to a New York Times report.
Only one other vaccine, developed by the Chinese firm Sinopharm, has started a late-stage trial.
AstraZeneca, a British pharmaceutical company, is building an international supply chain to make sure that the vaccine developed by Oxford University is available "widely and rapidly."
The Serum Institute of India is also producing an additional one billion doses of the Oxford vaccine, mainly for low- and middle-income countries, of which 400 million will be made before the end of 2020.
Companies in the USA, China, Germany, France and Sweden are among others in the race to develop vaccines.
Also, a Bangladeshi pharmaceutical company recently claimed to have developed a vaccine against Covid-19. But the World Health Organization tracker does not have any information about it.
On July 2, the global health agency published the draft landscape of Covid-19 candidate vaccines.