Bangladesh firm says it has developed COVID-19 vaccine. Government is in the dark

A Bangladeshi drugmaker claims to have developed a vaccine for COVID-19, joining the global race for the prevention of the disease that has turned daily life upside down the world over.

Government officials say they have no knowledge of the development by Globe Biotech as the confirmed global coronavirus cases topped 10.75 million with nearly 520,000 deaths.

Scientists in different parts of the world are grappling to speed up the work to develop an effective vaccine.

Globe Biotech, a sister concern of Globe Pharmaceuticals, claimed at a news conference in Dhaka on Thursday that it began the work to develop the vaccine on Mar 8, when the first cases were detected in the country.

The researchers of the firm have also got “successful results” from a clinical trial of the vaccine candidate on rabbits at its lab in Narayanganj’s Rupganj.

They hope the vaccine will hit the market within seven months and apply for human trials after another round of trial on animal in six to seven weeks.

Dr Asif Mahmud, head of research and development at Globe Biotech, said they began the trial on rabbits on Jun 10 by isolating those, collected pre-immune serum from the subjects two days later and analysed the results after 14 more days.

He said they confirmed the target of the vaccine by examining 5,743 genome sequences of the novel coronavirus from the US National Center for Biotechnology Information by using bioinformatics tool.

The firm has submitted the complete coding of the target to the NCBI and the US agency has approved and published it, Asif said.

The next levels of the research on the virus will be held at the lab of the company in Dhaka’s Tejgaon. Its CEO Dr Kakon Nag and COO Dr Naznin Sultana are supervising the research.

“We have no official words on the matter. We know nothing about it,” Md Ayub Hossain, a director at the Directorate General of Drug Administration, told bdnews24.com.

“Ethical clearance is required for clinical trials. They [Biotech] haven’t sought our approval. Maybe they conducted animal trial and would seek permission before human trial,” said Professor Dr Mahmud-uz-Jahan, the director at Bangladesh Medial Research Council.

Founded in 1986, Globe Pharmaceuticals launched its facilities to develop drugs in 2016.

Its Chairman Harunur Rashid and Director Mamunur Rashid Kiron, a ruling Awami

League MP, were also present at the news conference.