Singapore-developed COVID-19 vaccine injected into first group of volunteers in trial

PHOTO: Getty Images
PHOTO: Getty Images

SINGAPORE — The first group of volunteers have been dosed with an investigative COVID-19 vaccine for an early stage of a Singapore-based trial.

The vaccine is jointly developed by Duke-NUS Medical School and United States pharmaceutical company Arcturus Therapeutics, while the trial is being administered by the SingHealth Investigational Medicine Unit and is expected to last until October.

According to a media release by Arcturus on Tuesday (11 August), doses of the coronavirus vaccine – called Lunar-Cov19 – were administered as a single injection to the volunteers, who are adults aged between 21 and 55 years old.

Based upon the data from this group, dose regimens will be selected for further evaluation in the next phase, which includes cohorts in younger adults as well as older adults aged 56 to 80 years old.

Vaccination at low doses possible

Joseph Payne, president and chief executive officer of Arcturus, said that based on pre-clinical data, the Lunar-Cov19 vaccine may allow vaccination at very low doses, with just a one-time injection.

“These favourable attributes could greatly facilitate mass vaccination campaigns necessary to control this global pandemic,” he said in the media release.

“We look forward to sharing initial clinical data from this Phase 1/2 study in Q4, which we expect to enable dose selection for late phase clinical trials.”

According to The Straits Times, more than 250 people had volunteered for the trials of the vaccine, but only about 100 were selected.

The vaccine was originally slated to begin trials in September, but had been approved ahead of time due to pre-clinical trials “exceeding expectations”.

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