First Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial in Catalonia begins
Girona area pharmaceutical company Hipra tests its jab on 30 volunteers
Pharmaceutical company Hipra, based in Amer, Girona area, has begun to test its Covid-19 vaccine on volunteers as part of a clinical trial that is being carried out with the Hospital Universitari de Girona Doctor Josep Trueta and Barcelona's Hospital Clínic.
The first vaccine trial of its kind in Catalonia and anywhere else in Spain, 30 people between the ages of 18 and 39 who have not yet been vaccinated with another jab and who have not had Covid-19 will participate in phase I/IIa of the research.
The 30 volunteers will be receiving two doses in a space of 21 days, with the 25 in the experimental group getting the Hipra jab and the remaining 5 in the control group getting Pfizer.
Researchers hope to be able to evaluate both the safety of the vaccine as well as its immunogenicity, that is to say, its ability to generate an immune response. Initial results are expected in two or three months, although the entire trial will last around a year.
Over 400 people expressed their willingness to participate in the trial, which was greenlighted by Spain's Medicines Agency (AEMPS) two weeks ago and which has also been given the go-ahead from Hospital Clínic's ethics committee.
Of these people, the 30 participants were selected following a questionnaire and a blood test to determine whether they had possibly had an asymptomatic case of Covid-19 in the past.
Possible benefits of Hipra jab
Unlike the other Covid-19 vaccines that are being administered throughout the EU, the Hipra jab is based on a recombinant protein, like certain flu shots, which simulates part of the virus and generates an immune response that protects against future infections or severe illness.
Furthermore, the vaccine only needs to be stored at 2 to 8º C, making it easier to transport than the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines that must be frozen at much lower temperatures.
According to Dr. Rafel Ramos, a biomedical at Girona's Doctor Josep Trueta hospital, recombinant protein may be "a bit easier to adapt to possible future variants."
With new variants and other potential biological threats in mind, researchers stress the importance of continually developing new vaccines, especially as certain segments of the population remain unvaccinated and booster shots may be needed.