Kazakhstan's COVID-19 vaccine: developer tested himself
18 August 2020 19:00

Kazakhstan's COVID-19 vaccine: developer tested himself

ALMATY. KAZINFORM – Head of the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Scientific Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems, Doctor of Veterinary Sciences, and developer of the Kazakhstani COVID-19 vaccine Lepek Kutumbetov is among the first to test the vaccine on himself. In an interview with the Kazinform correspondent, Dr Lepek Kutumbetov shared whether he felt well after being vaccinated and how that was possible that the Institute has developed the vaccine in such a short period of time.

-Let’s get started on what changes have occurred in your body so far after injection?

-No pathologies have been documented so far. Over two weeks have passed since the vaccine was injected. Since then, daily checkups including taking temperature, blood pressure have been conducted. Blood samples are examined for the presence of immunity. One thing is for sure that the vaccine is harmless. Hematologic indicators show the body staring to produce protective antibodies.

-Do you remember cases when vaccination did not help?

-Once the body has produced protective antibodies to neutralize the virus, then the vaccinated person is unlikely to catch the virus again. Over my long years of service, I have never met a person catching the virus again after vaccination.

-Does it mean that vaccinated people should not wear face masks?

-Yeah, however, face masks are mandatory countrywide. Rules are rules.

-Scientists from around the world race to be the first to develop the COVID-19 vaccine. Russia has recently registered the world first COVID-19 vaccine. Do the vaccines differ?

-There are several types of a vaccine. The traditional one is considered to be time-consuming and implies live vaccines during which pathogenic properties of a virulent virus – one that causes a disease – are removed to create a vaccine, which further creates immunity.

The second type is an inactivated polio virus vaccine or killed, the one that has been developed by our Institute. The virus is killed by chemicals, further added by immune-stimulating drugs and used as a vaccine.

The new type of a vaccine has recently been developed – vector vaccines (or subunit vaccines), which are developed using genetic engineering. A piece of the virulent virus genome is inserted into another non-virulent virus to use as a vaccine.

The Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Scientific Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems works on development of five vaccines: two traditional ones including inactivated and live as well as new generation vaccines including a vector vaccine developed using two different viruses. The fifth vaccine is subunit and is developed by genetic engineering. Our Institute is the only entity to develop five vaccines at ones. Many countries are developing a vector vaccine to avoid a virulent virus.

-The traditional vaccine was the first your Institute has developed. Why?

-Yes, you are right. We have come up with the inactivated polio virus vaccine first due to the easiness the vaccine is developed. We are also developing the subunit vaccine the same as the Australian one which has gone well so far. The vector vaccine is already ready and undergoes trials.

-How was it possible that your Institute has developed the vaccine in such a short period of time when at least one year is required to develop a vaccine?

-The vaccine development factors in the financial and technical base and the qualification of specialists. Our Institute has been operation for over 60 years and specializes in virology. The Institute has developed many vaccines, including the best ones in the world. There are some unique vaccines.

-We have started developing the vaccine since March, and were able to come up with one at the end of the day.

-It is possible that Kazakhstani people will be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September?

-Before being used, the vaccines need to undergo several phases of trials on humans. And that’s before being tested on animals. Those phases include trials on a small group of people, volunteers. The second involves trials on immunogenicity to determine the vaccine’s efficacy for target purposes and include more people. The third phase involves over 1,000 people .

In September, we are to embark on the first phase of clinical trials, over 40 volunteers are selected.

Thank you for the interview!

Written by Yelaman Turysbekov