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The Latest Development in ChulaCov19 Vaccine

February 18, 2021 – King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, The Thai Red Cross Society, Chula Faculty of Medicine, and Chula Vaccine Research Center (Chula VRC) jointly held a press conference on “The latest development on ChulaCov19 vaccine and its readiness for clinical trial”.  On the panel were H.E. Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister; Dr. Nakorn Premsri, the Director of National Vaccine Institute (NVI); Prof.Dr. Suttipong Wacharasindhu, Director of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, The Thai Red Cross Society and Dean of Chula Faculty of Medicine; and Dr.Kiat Ruxrungtham, Director of Chula Vaccine Research Center (Chula VRC).  The event was moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jiruth Sriratanaban, Deputy Director of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.

“During the recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in Thailand, Chulalongkorn Hospital has readied its facilities, doctors, nurses, healthcare personnel, as well modern technology for effective screening of COVID-19  for the general public.  Meanwhile, Chula VRC, in collaboration with both local and international researchers, has been developing COVID-19 vaccines.  Most recently, the second injection of the COVID-19 vaccine has already been administered in monkeys.  To our satisfaction, the monkeys have developed a strong immune system and are healthy.  So, we are ready to go ahead with the human clinical trial,”  said Prof. Dr. Suttipong Wacharasindhu, Director of Chulalongkorn Hospital and Dean of Chula Faculty of Medicine.

Chulalongkorn Hospital and Chula VRC are poised to ensure that the clinical trial will be carried out efficiently with the utmost priority on safety for public reassurance. I am confident that the trial will be successful and the ChulaCov19 vaccine will benefit Thailand and enhance the country’s international reputation.

Dr. Kiat Ruxrungtham, Director of Chula VRC’s COVID-19 vaccine development said that the project received support from NVI, the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT), The Chula Second Century Fund (C2F), MDCU Alumni’s donation, and the Thai Red Cross Society’s donation fund for vaccine development.  “ChulaCov19” is an mRNA type of vaccine with has been approved for use in emergencies in many countries and to be given to the general public and some countries, such as Switzerland and New Zealand.  The data as of February 18, 2021, showed that 100 million out of 180 million people around the world have received mRNA vaccines. 

ChulaCov19 vaccine was designed and developed by Thai scientists and physicians, in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Drew Weissman, University of Pennsylvania.  ChulaCov19 is made from the tiny genetic material of the Corona Virus (not the virus itself).  When the body receives this genetic material, it will create spike proteins and antibodies to fight the virus when the body is exposed to it.  Once the mRNA vaccine has done its duty of signaling the body to create the spike protein, it will be gone from the system.

  • ChulaCov19 can prevent COVID-19 and drastically reduce the virus counts in mice.  The latest result showed that after the special breed of mice, engineered to be able to have COVID-19, received the full dose of 2 injections of the ChulaCov19 vaccine, 3 weeks apart, and are exposed to the COVID-19 virus through their nose, the vaccine has prevented the mice from contracting the disease and the virus from entering the mice’s bloodstream.  Moreover, the virus count in the nose and lungs was reduced by 10,000,000 times.  The mice that were not vaccinated showed COVID-19 symptoms in 3-5 days and all showed high virus counts in their bloodstream, nose, and lungs.
  • ChulaCov19 can be stored at a normal refrigerator’s temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius for at least one month.  Currently, results of storage up to 3 months are pending.  So, the vaccines can be conveniently transported throughout the country.
  • ChulaCov19 is expected to be produced and tested in clinical trials around May of this year.
  • The second batch of the vaccine is being developed to be tested in mice to prepare for future vaccine-resistant strains because outbreaks of new, already-resistant-to-vaccine stains have already been found in many countries.  The advantage of the mRNA vaccine is the speedy turnaround to cope with resistant strains of the virus.

Dr. Nakorn Premsri, the Director of NVI added that NVI is pledging its support for COVID-19 vaccine development in the country to lay the foundation and develop the nation’s potential in vaccine development to cope with the outbreaks.  The mRNA vaccine is accepted to have a fast turnaround to be used to produce effective vaccines for new communicable diseases and adjusted to cope with mutations of the viruses.  It is of great importance that the Chula Faculty of Medicine has dedicated its effort in this direction which will serve as another research and development model that will ensure greater stability for the country.   

Chula is the place to discover one’s true individuality and the years I spent here were most enjoyable.

Rossukhon Kongket Alumni, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University

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