A clinical test of a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus developed by medical startup Anges Inc. will start June 30 in Japan, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said Wednesday, envisioning to put it into practice next year.
"I think it will be the first clinical test (of a coronavirus vaccine) on humans in Japan," Yoshimura told a press conference, adding that the test will initially target 20 to 30 medical workers at Osaka City University Hospital and expand to hundreds by October.
The prefectural and municipal governments of Osaka, which operate universities and hospitals in the western Japan prefecture, and Anges, a startup set up by an Osaka University professor, agreed in April to cooperate on research and development of treatment drugs and vaccines for the coronavirus.
Yoshimura said it is possible to produce the DNA vaccine for 200,000 people by the end of this year and they aim to apply for state approval between spring and fall of next year if the test proves its effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infection.
The envisioned vaccine will inject a genetically engineered circular DNA into the body, which is expected to stimulate the immune system and make antibodies against the coronavirus.
Animal testing of the vaccine has proven its safety, Yoshimura said.
Around 125 vaccines are currently under development globally, including 10 in human testing as of May 27, according to the World Health Organization.
As the race intensifies, U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Inc., British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca Plc, and China's CanSino Biologics Inc. are among those whose vaccine candidates are already in clinical trials.
But given the expected surge in demand, the Japanese government is pushing for a homegrown vaccine as foreign ones may be limited in supply and not be available for people in Japan.