Kazakh Scientists Continue Work on COVID-19 Vaccine Development

NUR-SULTAN – The Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems is continuing its work on five platforms for developing a COVID-19 candidate vaccine, said Director General of the institute Kunsulu Zakarya during the Oct. 28 meeting with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, reported the Akorda press service.  

Photo credit: Akorda Press.

The QazCovid vaccine has been included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation. As a result, the vaccine has passed the first preclinical human trials on Aug. 20. The National Scientific Center of Phthisiopulmonology is now conducting the second stage of the vaccine study. 

The second subunit vaccine was also included in the WHO’s list of candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation. The candidate vaccine was developed and passed clinical trials at the National Center for Expertise of Medicines and Medical Devices.

The construction of the immunomodulator production plant started in June in the Zhambyl region. The design capacity of the plant will be 60 million doses of vaccines per year to cover the domestic market and export supplies. 

The President and Zakarya also discussed the issues of increasing salary for scientists, attracting young specialists to new developments and introducing the concept of temporary registration of a vaccine into regulatory legal acts.

COVID-19 vaccine development is one of the priorities for the Kazakh government. The government approved the COVID-19 vaccine development scientific and technical program. The Ministry of Education and Science allocated additional funds for the material and technical equipment of the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems. 

Volunteers aged 18 to 50 are allowed to take part in the first and second phases of clinical trials. The institute received 688 applications for clinical trials from all regions of Kazakhstan. At first, they went through screening to create a pool of vaccine volunteers.

Forty-four volunteers who haven’t had COVID-19 and do not have antibodies took part in the first stage. Two hundred volunteers started to participate in the second stage to study immunogenicity in mid-October. The clinical trials are planned to be completed in December 2020. The third stage of vaccine trials will last until 2021. 

Earlier, the Ministry of Healthcare identified risk groups for vaccination coverage. It included people with chronic diseases aged 60 and older, medical workers and teachers. The preliminary number of people that will be subject to vaccination is 2.8 million people, or 15 percent of the total population. This requires 5.6 million vaccine doses.

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