Dr Chris Wynne, medical director at New Zealand Clinical Research, said the trial would go “reasonably slowly” with younger people receiving a low dose of the vaccine at first.
“We dose some people and assess the response and so far there have been no particular issues and we don’t expect any, but we are extremely cautious in how we do this according to the protocol,” he said.
Wynne said New Zealand was seen as a good place to run a clinical trial because it has a good health system, a compliant population and could produce high quality research data for the pharmaceutical industry. It was also considered low risk as there was no Covid-19 in the community and there was still a large population who had not been immunised.
He said the ReCov vaccine has the potential to be even better than the one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech – currently favoured by New Zealand’s government – as it immunises against two parts of the virus.
“So theoretically if there’s a mutation in one part of the virus some vaccines will no longer work – the virus may escape the vaccine, but if you’ve immunised against its two parts you have a much greater chance that the virus will not escape from the immune system,” he said.
“I would expect that from the animal data, this is likely to be a successful vaccine. So here we will have 100 people who will be successfully immunised.”
Other Chinese vaccine makers have conducted human trials in Australia but this is the first time a Chinese vaccine has been tested in New Zealand.
New Zealand Clinical Research is still recruiting participants for the ReCov study, offering each about NZ$3,000 (US$2,110) in compensation.
Sydney faces ‘scariest period’ amid Delta outbreak
“Since the pandemic has started, this is perhaps the scariest period that New South Wales is going through,” state premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
The state has imposed tough restrictions in Sydney, Australia’s largest city and home to one-fifth of the country’s 25 million population, with health officials saying transmission could be happening even through minimal contact with infected persons.
Officials have so far resisted calls for a hard lockdown although Australia has a good record of successfully suppressing past outbreaks through snap lockdowns, tough social distancing rules and swift contact tracing.
The country has reported about 30,400 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began.
Berejiklian said despite the Delta variant being very infectious, her government was “at this stage comfortable” with the current level of restrictions.
Western Australia state premier Mark McGowan has urged New South Wales authorities to place the state in a lockdown to “crush and kill” the virus, warning “light touch” curbs could trigger a spike in infections.
A mask mandate has been imposed in all indoor locations in Sydney, including offices, residents in seven council areas in Sydney’s east and inner west have been restricted from leaving the city, and home gatherings have been limited to five people.
The state has been effectively isolated from the rest of the country after some states, like Western Australia, slammed their borders shut while others introduced tough border rules.
Eleven new local cases were reported on Thursday, taking the total infections in the latest outbreak to more than 40. Thursday’s data includes six cases detected after the 8pm cut-off deadline, which will be included in Friday’s tally.
Reporting by The New Zealand Herald, Reuters