China plans human trial of SARS vaccine

Jan 21, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Chinese authorities have approved the first human trial of a SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) vaccine, Chinese state news agencies reported yesterday.

Tests in rhesus monkeys indicated the vaccine is safe, and it will now be tested for safety in humans, according to reports from the Xinhua News Agency and China Daily. An Associated Press (AP) report quoted officials as saying the vaccine also had been found effective in animals.

Under development since April, the vaccine passed an evaluation by the State Food and Drug Administration, according to China Daily. The AP report said 30 people have volunteered for the vaccine trial.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver have prepared three potential SARS vaccines, according to a report from the Vancouver Sun. Under an agreement with the university, the Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, Ala., will begin testing the vaccines in ferrets and rodents.

Dr. Brett Finlay of the university said researchers should be able to choose one of the vaccines for further testing by the end of March, according to the report. He said human tests of one of the vaccines could begin by fall.

In other developments, a 35-year-old businessman who had probable SARS was released from a hospital today in Guangzhou, capital of China's Guangdong Province, according to Xinhua. The man's 28 contacts have all remained well and have been released from isolation and medical observation, the news agency said.

The businessman is the last of three recent SARS patients to be released from hospitals in Guangdong. A 20-year-old waitress was released from a Guangzhou hospital Jan 17, and a 32-year-old television producer was released Jan 8. Chinese officials said last week that laboratory tests had confirmed SARS in the waitress and the 35-year-old man, but the World Health Organization said more tests were needed for full confirmation.

Besides the three Chinese patients, the only SARS cases since the end of the global outbreaks last spring involved two laboratory researchers, one in Singapore last September and one in Taiwan in December.

In Hong Kong yesterday, a 57-year-old doctor was finally discharged from a hospital after 10 months of treatment for SARS, according to an AP report. Dr. Joseph Chung was in intensive care for 4 months and was the city's last SARS patient, the report said.

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