Uzbekistan to carry out late-stage trial of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine candidate

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan will carry out a phase III trial of a coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co., the Central Asian nation’s ministry of innovative development told Reuters on Wednesday.

The deal makes the Zhifei Longcom vaccine the fifth COVID-19 candidate in China to enter late-stage, large scale human tests overseas.

“The third phase of the pilot process will be conducted in Uzbekistan for 5,000 volunteers and the process will continue for a year,” the ministry said, adding that volunteers were aged between 18 and 59 and would undergo eight medical examinations within a year.

Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical is a unit of Chongqing Zhifei 300122.SZ. Uzbekistan has said it was also in talks with China's Sinopharm and the developers of Russian Sputnik V vaccine about potential trials.

Uzbekistan, which has confirmed over 69,000 COVID-19 cases with 589 deaths, is currently reporting about 200 cases a day. It has had two nationwide lockdowns but has no plans to impose another and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has instructed officials to “learn to live and work in pandemic conditions”.

Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Philippa Fletcher