Pilot testing of potential COVID-19 vaccine progresses

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Pilot testing of the mRNA vaccine on primates has been launched, said Zhang Quan, director of the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission, during a news conference on Monday.

A researcher of Stermirna Therapeutics Co., Ltd. shows the experiment to develop an mRNA vaccine targeting the novel coronavirus in east China's Shanghai, Jan. 29, 2020. [Photo: Xinhua]

Zhang said the pilot testing of the vaccine, which can be used against the novel coronavirus, will be focused on animal toxicology and the vaccine's effectiveness. Clinical trials are expected to start in mid-April.

The development of another virus-like particle vaccine has also made progress during its tests on mice, with scientists discovering a specific antibody in lab mice that could be useful in fighting the COVID-19 virus, he added.

On the research of COVID-19 medicine, Zhang said that as of March 15, there are 21 hospitals conducting 184 cases of clinical study on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, a medication that treats certain types of malaria.

Scientists have also conducted around 1.78 million screenings in search of possible chemical compounds that would work against the virus, he said.

A team of epidemiologists has been surveying how the virus spreads so as to make contingency plans for the control and prevention of imported cases.

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