Desperate Peru will begin Covid-19 vaccine testing with volunteers next month

A team of Chinese scientists is expected to arrive in Peru next week to work with local researchers, said Germán Málaga, lead vaccine investigator at Heredia University

Peru will start testing coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinopharm and US drug maker Johnson & Johnson in September, researchers said, which should help the country gain faster access to inoculations once the vaccines are approved.

Sinopharm began this week to recruit up to 6,000 volunteers in Peru, which has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in relation to its population size.

A team of Chinese scientists is expected to arrive in Peru next week to work with local researchers, said Germán Málaga, a doctor and lead vaccine investigator at Lima’s Cayetano Heredia University.

“This is going to happen around Sep 3, to begin vaccinations on Sep 8,” he said. Sinopharm’s clinical trials in Peru are being done with Cayetano Heredia and the state-run Universidad Mayor de San Marcos.

Peru has recorded around 622,000 cases of the coronavirus, the fifth highest case load in the world, and 28,277 deaths. It now has the world’s deadliest fatality rate per capita, with 86.67 deaths per 100,000 people, just ahead of Belgium.

Sinopharm will also do clinical coronavirus vaccine trials elsewhere in Latin America, including in Argentina.

Other Chinese laboratories that will be conducting trials in the region include Sinovac Biotech, which will work in Brazil and Chile, and Walvax and CanSino, which will test in Mexico, authorities have said.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit will start tests with some 4,000 volunteers in Peru around Sep 24, Prime Minister Walter Martos told reporters on Thursday.

“We are contacting other companies, laboratories, from Britain and other countries that are going to help us immunize at least 70 per cent of the local population,” Martos said.

J&J said earlier this week that it would conduct Phase III trials for its vaccine in Chile, Argentina and Peru.

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