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SARS vaccine test results come out Wednesday
By Xiao Xin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-25 22:15

Results from the initial clinical tests of the world's first SARS vaccine will be published Wednesday.

Four volunteers injected with the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) vaccine on Saturday are in good condition, said Lin Jiangtao, head of the Respiratory Medical Department at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, during an interview with the Beijing News.

The volunteers are three healthy male and a female students from Beijing-based universities.

After two hours of observation after the inoculation, they left hospital.

The volunteers took blood tests and were observed for reaction daily during first three days. The whole observation process will last 210 days.

The four are the first group of 36 healthy volunteers aged between 21 to 40 selected for the testing.

China became the first country in the world to approve clinical testing of the vaccine on people in January.

Three phases of clinical testing are required before the vaccine can be mass produced, said an official with the Ministry of Health who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The first phase is to determine if the vaccine is safe for humans.

The vaccine tested on the four volunteers is a SARS virus-free placebo, which means SARS virus has been destroyed but the virus-free vaccine can help people build up an immunity against the disease.

The second phase of clinical testing will aim to determine whether the vaccine can help people produce the necessary antibodies.

For the third phase, the performance of the vaccine during an outbreak is tested by comparing large groups people with and without it.

The first two phases of clinical testing are expected to conclude before the first half of next year, but the timing of the third phase is hard to predict, he said.

In another development, five people who had close contact with SARS patients were freed from isolation on Sunday.

The five people, all staff at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, were the last group in isolation.

There have been reports that the SARS outbreak this spring was caused by a virus from the lab of the centre, but both the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health said further study is needed.

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