China OK’s human trials of potential COVID-19 vaccine

China has given the go-ahead for researchers to begin human safety tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the race to develop a shot against the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 7,000 people worldwide.

Researchers at China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences — affiliated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — received approval to launch early-stage clinical trials of the potential vaccine starting this week, the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily reported Tuesday.

Scientists in the United States said Monday that clinical trials had begun for a vaccine developed by its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S. biotech firm Moderna.

Details in the Chinese clinical trial registration database show that a Phase 1 test that will examine whether the experimental shot is safe in humans aims to recruit 108 healthy people to take part between March 16 and Dec. 31.

The trial will be conducted by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Biologics, the database showed.

Experts at the World Health Organization say they do not expect any fully-tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of next year.

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