BANGKOK, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- A Thai university on Tuesday launched a campaign to encourage the public to donate money to support the university's project in developing locally produced COVID-19 vaccine derived from tobacco leaves.
"The COVID-19 vaccine will be made from 'nicotiana leaves,' where several steps are involved including exposing to agrobacteria," said Bundhit Eua-arporn, rector of Chulalongkorn University. "Then we harvest the plant, go through an extraction and purification process, and at the end of the cycle, we have 99.9 percent pure protein."
The vaccine project is a joint effort by Chulalongkorn University, Baiya Phytopharm Company, the Thai government's Pharmaceutical Organization and Kingen Biotech Company.
The university's campaign intends to raise 500 million baht (16.6 million U.S. dollars) in seed money from 1 million donors, to build a factory to produce the anti-viral vaccine for Thai people, said Bundhit, adding that the donors will have privileged access to the vaccine, once the vaccine has been approved for use and distribution, in line with the Thai laws and regulations.
The rector said that it is now at a point where animals were being tested and that more research will be undertaken with clinical trials to be conducted on humans.
"The candidate vaccine will conduct the third phase of human trials on volunteers expected at the end of next year, to be conducted at home or abroad, depending on the pandemic situation at the time," said Sutheera Dejkhunnavuth at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Chulalongkorn University and CEO of Baiya Phytofarm.
If the human trials are successful, mass production will then begin and that the factory will be able to produce about 1 million doses of the vaccine annually, Sutheera said, adding that each dose will cost about 500 baht (16.64 U.S. dollars), and each patient will be injected with two doses of 15-20 mg each.
Thailand's Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said earlier that his ministry has set aside 150 million baht (5 million U.S. dollars) to fund this vaccine project.
The ministry has placed an order to secure 26 million doses of vaccine for 13 million Thais from AstraZeneca, which is developing a vaccine with Oxford University, Anutin said. Enditem