DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh's state medical research agency has approved a third-phase trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, as infections rise in the densely populated South Asian country.
Sinovac has been looking for volunteers outside China as the number of coronavirus cases there has dwindled, said a member of Bangladesh’s national technical advisory committee to tackle COVID-19.
The trial, to be conducted by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), could begin next month.
"We have given ethical permission for the trial after reviewing the research protocol,” Mahmood Uz Jahan, director of the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC), told Reuters.
The trial will involve 4,200 volunteers, Jahan said.
"Half of them will get vaccinated," he said.
The trial would be conducted in seven hospitals specialising in treating novel coronavirus infections in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, an ICDDR,B official said on the condition of anonymity.
A Sinovac representative told Reuters that it was waiting for official approval from Bangladesh.
A senior Bangladesh health ministry official, who declined to be identified, said there should not be any objection from the government as Bangladesh would "get priority" if they can successfully develop the vaccine.
Bangladesh had 204,525 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Sunday, with 2,618 deaths.
Sinovac said this month it was starting Phase III trials of its potential coronavirus vaccine in Brazil.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Additional reporting by Roxanne Liu; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel)