MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico will conduct late-stage clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines in development by Johnson & Johnson and two Chinese companies, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
Large-scale, phase three human testing for the J&J unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ candidate could start in the second half of September, the company has previously said.
Mexico will also help test candidates for Chinese companies CanSino Biologics Inc and Walvax Biotechnology Co Ltd, the ministry said in a presentation at a news conference.
More than 150 vaccines are being developed and tested around the world to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, with 25 in human clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.
Russia is the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, which it named ‘Sputnik V’ for foreign markets, an official said on Tuesday.
Johnson & Johnson kicked off U.S. human safety trials in July for its COVID-19 vaccine after releasing details of a study in monkeys that showed its best-performing vaccine candidate offered strong protection in a single dose.
Walvax’s experimental vaccine is currently under early testing at a Chinese military research institute.
CanSino Biologics’ vaccine candidate is already in clinical trials. The company is also collaborating with Canada’s National Research Council to “pave the way” for future trials in Canada, the research council in May.
Mexico has lobbied in world forums including at the G20 group of nations and the United Nations to secure equitable access for an eventual vaccine.
Latin America’s second largest economy has suffered more than 50,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to official data, making it the third country with most deaths globally.
It ranks 13th adjusted for deaths per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)