By Ruma Paul
DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh has approved a late-stage trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd in the hope of being a priority recipient for the jab, the health minister said on Thursday.
The state medical research agency had given ethical approval to the Phase III trial last month, and now the government has signed off on the research.
The approval comes after Bangladesh said this month it was also ready to hold trials of potential COVID-19 vaccines developed by India as it seeks to stem the spread of the pandemic.
"We have given permission after examining all necessary research protocols," Bangladesh's Health Minister Zahid Maleque of the Sinovac trial.
"We have already applied to the WHO (World Health Organization) to get the vaccine on a priority basis," the minister said.
The trial, to be conducted by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), will begin soon, Maleque said.
The trial will involve 4,200 volunteers and half of them will be vaccinated, health officials said.
Bangladesh had 304,583 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday, with 4,127 deaths.
Indonesia and Brazil are also helping with the Phase III trial as Sinovac has been looking for volunteers outside China where the number of coronavirus cases has dwindled.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Alison Williams)