Cooperation between Uzbekistan and the People’s Republic of China in the domain of science and innovation began in 2017. Within the framework of the state visit of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to China, an agreement was reached on the establishment of a committee on scientific and technical cooperation between the Ministry of Innovative Development of Republic of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.
Nowadays, within the framework of this cooperation, joint grants financed by Uzbekistan and China, as well as exchange of young scientists, are being carried out.
Within the framework of this cooperation, the Ministry of innovation development, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic was beginning, a major partnership programme started to implement to fight against COVID-19. Particularly, studies were carried out on the study of drugs, test systems. At the same time, there was a need to develop a project for the creation and use of vaccines. During this period, the cooperation of the Center for Advanced Technologies under the Ministry of Innovative Development with the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was established and industrial cooperation with the pharmaceutical company “Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co., Ltd.” began. These partnerships were implemented a part of the third clinical trials conducted in our country.
It should be noted that at the same time, none of our medical institutions had the experience of participating in such a multicenter study of new medicines. Repeated discussions with the participation of scientists, mature doctors of our country have shown that there are doubts about whether our medicine will be able to cope with such a difficult task. At the same time, such an experiment was very effective for us, furthermore, we could be the first who received this vaccine in the future.
At the same time, the developers of the vaccine made other proposals in the third stage of testing. But our knowledge and experience in genetic engineering have shown that ZF-2001 has a recombinant protein nature, and this technology has found its confirmation in recent years. This type of vaccine is administered against hepatitis, it is known in our country and children are vaccinated with it from 2 months. A comprehensive study of the new vaccine technology, safety and immunogenicity reports for stages 1 and 2 of the test allowed us to make the right decision.
In October 2020, a trilateral memorandum was signed between the Ministry of Innovative Development, the Institute of Virology under the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan and a Chinese pharmaceutical company. Thus, an agreement was reached in Uzbekistan to conduct the third stage of trials of a vaccine against coronavirus. Before the start of clinical trials in Uzbekistan, laboratory tests of the drug were carried out, the effectiveness of antibody production in animals was evaluated.
In November, a group of Chinese researchers and specialists arrived in Tashkent, and they are still here. The tests have not been completed yet and will be continued until the end of this year. A group of doctors and nurses had been trained at the Institute of Virology to work on this project. More than 30 employees of the Center of Excellence are attached to the management and monitoring team. In total, more than 100 medical professionals were involved in this process, after that we established another team of 36 people for the call center to monitor the health of volunteers on a daily basis.
These numbers prove once again how extensive the research we are doing.
Therefore, at the meeting of the Ethics Committee held on December 10, 2020, the documents submitted by the Center for Advanced Technologies together with Chinese partners were considered, and, according to the conclusions of the reviewers, the international randomized, bilateral anonymous, placebo-controlled clinical trial was approved in accordance with the requirements of the international GPC standard. According to WHO requirements, more than 7,000 volunteers were insured by the Ethics Committee against possible side effects.
We have organized 5 vaccination points, initially it was decided to involve organized groups of the population, such as military, civil servants, doctors, as subordinates. In this case, of course, the main condition is the voluntary consent of the volunteer, each of whom signed such consent. A monetary reward was also given to cover the personal expenses of the volunteers.
To vaccinate 7,000 people, a total of 14,000 volunteers had to undergo a medical check up that determined the volunteers’ primary health indicators, had PCR blood tests and coronavirus for antibodies, some were excluded from testing for medical reasons, and many more people were diagnosed with antibodies to COVID-19, and there were those who did not voluntarily return for vaccination on the second day.
The research and organizational work of scientists of the Center for Advanced Technologies and the Institute of Virology was highly appreciated by Chinese specialists, as well as independent experts. China announced the admission of Uzbekistan as a co-authorand a joint decision to give it the name ZF-UZ-VAC2001 was made. This achievement allowed our country to enter among the countries with its vaccine.
Put in remembrance, that the phase III of clinical trials were conducted in 5 countries (China, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Ecuador) with a total of 28,500 volunteers. The results of the 3-stage clinical trials of the ZF-UZ-VAC2001 coronavirus vaccine were announced on August 27-28 of this year.
The results of these studies showed that vaccine efficacy after 3 doses is 81,76% for all strains and 92,93% for the “British” strain. It has been proven to be 100% effective against death and severe conditions. According to WHO requirements, the vaccine should show at least 50% efficiency.
28 500 volunteers received 14 249 vaccines and 14 251 placeboes. 647 of them were diagnosed with coronavirus. In 221 volunteers, the virus was detected 7 days after receiving 3 doses of vaccine. It is known that 35 of the consumers received vaccines, while 186 received a placebo. These figures made it possible to calculate the effectiveness of the vaccine by 81,76 percent.
For comparison, the Pfizer vaccine showed high efficacy by 85%, the AstraZeneca vaccine by 68%, the Moderna vaccine for the “main” (Uwan) strain (94%), and this figure decreased to 76% for the Delta strain.
In conclusion, I can say that the first partie of ZF-UZ-VAC2001 vaccine was produced almost a year after we began cooperation with Chinese partners at the pharmaceutical enterprise “Jurabek Laboratories” on September 30. Up to date, 10 million doses of the vaccine are produced per month.
Deputy Minister of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan