Brazil's Butantan says tests show vaccine by China's Sinovac is safe
Adds details and background on the race for a vaccine
BEIJING/SAO PAULO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - An experimental vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech SVA.O appeared to be safe in providing protection against the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus, preliminary results of a late stage clinical trial conducted in Brazil showed on Monday.
Sinovac is the first drugmaker to disclose late stage trial results, putting China ahead in attempts to develop a coronavirus vaccine to fight against a pandemic that has killed over 1 million people globally.
Sao Paulo's Butantan Institute, one of Brazil's leading biomedical research centers that is carrying out the Phase 3 tests, said the vaccine called Coronavac proved to be safe after its two doses were applied to 9,000 volunteers.
But Butantan director Dimas Covas said data on how effective the vaccine is in protecting people against the new coronavirus will not be released until it has been tested on all of the 15,000 volunteers in expanded trials.
Sao Paulo state health secretary Jean Gorinchteyn said the vaccines appeared to produce protective anti-bodies. The state is hoping to obtain regulatory approval for Coronavac by the end of the year to start inoculating its population early in 2021.
Sinovac really needed Brazil as a testing ground since it has been one of the global hotbeds of the virus, although cases are 43% off their peak of nearly 70,000.
Brazil has reported more than 5.2 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, the world's third most affected country after the United States and India.
AstraZeneca PLC AZN.L and Oxford University are nearing an analysis of their UK trial. Pfizer Inc PFE.N has said it could provide an early analysis of its trial this month and Moderna Inc MRNA.O may announce its results in November. Russia's Gamaleya Institute may also provide an analysis of its vaccine in the next month.
Pfizer and Moderna were both nearly fully enrolled at last count, with Pfizer's at 38,000 out of 40,000 people as of one week ago and Moderna several hundred people short of the 30,000 people it plans to sign up as of Friday.
Competing candidates developed by AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L and Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N have had their trials halted in the United States due to safety issues.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Christian Plumb)
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