Adimmune to shift vaccine research to focus on new COVID-19 variants
Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) Taiwan's Adimmune Corp., which has fallen behind two other domestic pharmaceutical firms in the race to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine, said Wednesday that it will shift its focus to developing vaccines targeting new variants of the virus.
In a press release, the company explained the strategy shift by noting the recent proliferation of new COVID-19 variants that may be less responsive to vaccines currently on the market, as well as the growing likelihood that the virus will become endemic.
Adimmune's current COVID-19 vaccine entered phase 1 clinical trials in August but has since fallen behind those of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. and United Biomedical, which were approved for phase two trials in late December and January, respectively.
According to the company, it has already begun work on "second generation" vaccines, using artificial intelligence to analyze existing variants of the virus and track the potential emergence of future mutations.
Regarding its clinical trials, the company said it has revised its vaccine dosage guidelines at the request of Taiwan's health authorities, but has yet to obtain approval for the changes.
Adimmune said it will continue working with local officials to resolve the issue, but added that it is also looking forward to phase 2 trials of the vaccine, which are scheduled to begin abroad.
The company's announcement, however, is unlikely to affect Taiwan's vaccine procurement efforts, which have until now leaned heavily on imports.
To date, the country has secured 14.76 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (10 million supplied through a deal with AstraZeneca and the rest through the COVAX allocation program) and 5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by U.S. company Moderna.
In terms of domestic products, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said last week that the government has signed an advance agreement to purchase 5 million doses from one of the two companies currently in phase 2 trials, and is in the process of negotiating with the other.
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