(Adds details and background on the race for a vaccine)
BEIJING/SAO PAULO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - An experimental
vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech appeared to
be safe in providing protection against the COVID-19 disease
caused by the new coronavirus, preliminary results of a late
stage clinical trial conducted in Brazil showed on Monday.
Sinovac is the first drugmaker to disclose late stage trial
results, putting China ahead in attempts to develop a
coronavirus vaccine to fight against a pandemic that has killed
over 1 million people globally.
Sao Paulo's Butantan Institute, one of Brazil's leading
biomedical research centers that is carrying out the Phase 3
tests, said the vaccine called Coronavac proved to be safe after
its two doses were applied to 9,000 volunteers.
But Butantan director Dimas Covas said data on how effective
the vaccine is in protecting people against the new coronavirus
will not be released until it has been tested on all of the
15,000 volunteers in expanded trials.
Sao Paulo state health secretary Jean Gorinchteyn said the
vaccines appeared to produce protective anti-bodies. The state
is hoping to obtain regulatory approval for Coronavac by the end
of the year to start inoculating its population early in 2021.
Sinovac really needed Brazil as a testing ground since it
has been one of the global hotbeds of the virus, although cases
are 43% off their peak of nearly 70,000.
Brazil has reported more than 5.2 million COVID-19 cases
since the pandemic began, the world's third most affected
country after the United States and India.
AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University are nearing an
analysis of their UK trial. Pfizer Inc has said it could
provide an early analysis of its trial this month and Moderna
Inc may announce its results in November. Russia's
Gamaleya Institute may also provide an analysis of its vaccine
in the next month.
Pfizer and Moderna were both nearly fully enrolled at last
count, with Pfizer's at 38,000 out of 40,000 people as of one
week ago and Moderna several hundred people short of the 30,000
people it plans to sign up as of Friday.
Competing candidates developed by AstraZeneca Plc
and Johnson & Johnson have had their trials halted in
the United States due to safety issues.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Christian Plumb)