Covid-19: Clinical trials begin in Sarawak Hospital

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By John Isaac

CLINICAL trials for the Covid-19 vaccines have commenced in the state at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) Clinical Research Centre (CRC).

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian said the trials involved 400 healthy volunteers with a one to one randomisation.

“(From the 400 volunteers), one person will be administered with the real China vaccine and the other will be given a placebo,” he said in a Facebook post reported by New Sarawak Tribune.

Earlier, he had visited the CRC in SGH to monitor the progress of the vaccine trial and met with the first Covid-19 vaccine volunteer in Sarawak.

“It is a privilege and an honour for CRC in SGH to be one of the nine centres selected for this Covid-19 vaccine research from China,” he said.

Dr Sim said CRC SGH was the only centre of its kind in Malaysia to be designed with dedicated Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and state of the art molecular laboratories which had proven to be useful during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to start CRC SGH back in 2003 when I was the first centre head. More satisfying is that those who come after me elevated the CRC to new heights,” he said.

Last week, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the vaccine trial in Malaysia involved nine hospitals and 3,000 volunteers.

Besides SGH, the eight other hospitals are Ampang Hospital, Penang Hospital, Seberang Jaya Hospital, Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital, Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital, Taiping Hospital, Sungai Buloh Hospital and Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital.

The Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine developed and sponsored by China’s Institute of Medical Biology Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (IMBCAMS) was to assess its safety and effectiveness against Covid-19 infection.

“It will involve 3,000 Malaysian volunteers over a period of 13 months,” Dr Adham said.

He also said Phases 1 and 2 of the clinical trial involved subjects in China and its findings showed significant immune response towards the SARS-CoV-2 antigen.