In a medical centre in the eastern city of Xuzhou, a few dozen healthy adults have become some of the first to trial a vaccine candidate for the coronavirus.

They are among a small group of people in China, the US and Britain who are pioneering the first human trials of different potential vaccines for COVID-19.

According to the Chinese company behind the Xuzhou vaccine, Sinovac Biotech, they are working around the clock.

“Normally the development of a vaccine will take eight to 10 years,” senior director of overseas business for Sinovac Meng Weining told the ABC.

“For this vaccine, it’s really a pandemic, so we’re trying our best to make it as quick as possible for each step.”

Sinovac — a private company supported by China’s government — previously worked on a SARS vaccine that was abandoned when the deadly virus disappeared in 2003, and in more recent years has developed avian flu and hepatitis vaccines.

It’s now one of five Chinese companies or government research organisations approved to commence human trials as regulators fast-track the process.

“That doesn’t mean we will cut down on certain steps for the development,” Mr Meng said.

“Normally you first do a test and then, according to the result, you do a second test. But, in order to save time, we do all testing in parallel.”

Image Credit:  Sinovac

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