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Chile initiates clinical study for COVID-19 vaccine

The Government has decided to support the clinical trial headed by Universidad Católica and Sinovac, with a state contribution of 2.6 billion Chilean pesos (around US$3.4 million).

Chile’s health and science officials announced that the protocol for carrying out phase III clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine in Chile will begin to be applied this month.

So far, there is no vaccine against the coronavirus in the world. “Finding a vaccine that creates antibodies and defenses in people is what will allow us to attack and stop the spread of the virus,” said Health Minister Enrique Paris.

Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation Minister Andrés Couve announced, “the Science Ministry and the Budget Directorate (Dipres) have carried out an analysis and decided that the public sector will support the clinical trial headed by Universidad Católica and Sinovac with a state contribution of 2.6 billion Chilean pesos (about US$3.4 million)”.

Universidad Católica will head the initiative through a consortium of eight universities whose experts will develop the test in phase III of the vaccine against the coronavirus, explained the Rector of the Pontificia Universidad Católica (PUC), Ignacio Sánchez.

“We are delighted to be able to carry out this work and aware of the responsibility involved. We have passed through the evaluation stages by expert committees, conversations with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (CAVEI) and teams of the vaccination councils of the Health Ministry, presenting this protocol at every level. Phase III means that, following the security phases in studies on animals and humans carried out in other countries, we have now reached the clinical trial level that measures the effectiveness of the vaccine. This is also being carried out in Brazil, China, Indonesia and other countries. Chile was chosen because of the quality of our scientists,” said the Rector.

He added that in order to move forward with this development, 3,000 volunteers between the age of 18 and 65 would be required. These will be recruited on a voluntary basis and incorporated by the health teams. According to the protocol, the analysis includes two vaccinations and measurements at the beginning of the immunological response.

“We hope that by the end of the year we will have an answer and, if this is positive in Chile and other countries, we could have the vaccines by 2021,” said Sánchez.

COVID-19 research in Chile

Minister Couve highlighted the public and private investment that has allowed the development of research into the pandemic so far.

In order to develop Phase III, 2.6 billion Chilean pesos in state funds will be supplemented by 1.6 billion pesos (US$2 million) allocated by the Confederation of Production and Commerce (CPC), and 1 billion pesos (US$1.3 million) by Universidad Católica.

This is in addition to 2.3 billion pesos in COVID-19 research funds, 72 million pesos in competitive funds for mental health development, 800 million pesos for the innovation and entrepreneurship challenge to create personal protection equipment (PPE), 1.5 billion pesos to support the PCR diagnostic lab network, and 500 million pesos from the Chilean Economic Development Agency (Corfo) to promote the production and scale-up of mechanical ventilators.

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