Chinese health regulators said on Thursday that they have conditionally approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by the state-owned Sinopharm Group.
The two-dose vaccine is the first universal vaccine approved by China. This decision was approved after the country had started vaccinating 50 million people before the Lunar New Year holiday in February.
Conditional approval means that the research is still in progress, Chen Shifei, deputy director of the National Medical Products Administration, told the press conference.
Shifei said the company “must continuously update the vaccine̵
The vaccine was developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of the state-owned Sinopharm. The company announced on Wednesday that preliminary data from the final phase of the trial showed an effective rate of 79.3%.
This is an inactive vaccine, which means that the virus is grown in the laboratory and then killed. The bacteria are then injected into the body to generate an immune response.
The final proof of its effectiveness will depend on the release of more data.
Sinopharm Group is one of at least five Chinese developers participating in the global competition. The company is developing a vaccine against the disease, which has killed 1.8 million people.
In addition to the emergency vaccination already underway, China also plans to start vaccinating high-risk groups, such as the elderly and people with chronic diseases. Officials did not disclose how many vaccines they will receive in China.
Zeng Yixin, deputy minister of the National Health Commission, said: “Every country has different conditions, but the general idea is that it must reach 60% to protect the entire population.”
Zeng Qinghong said that in emergency situations, 4.5 million doses have been given, including 3 million doses in the past two weeks.
Tao Lina, a former government immunologist, said that in fact, conditional approval means that problematic drugs or products may be restricted at certain ages.
Officials refused to disclose the specific price and gave conflicting statements. Zheng Zhongwei, another official of the National Health Commission, said: “This must be within the range that people cannot afford.”
A few minutes later, NHC official Zeng Qinghong stepped in and said that these vaccines were “absolutely free to the public.”
Although officials did not answer questions about current production capacity, the vaccine is already in mass production.
The approval of the Chinese vaccine may also bring hope to countries in the world that may not be able to obtain vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna, because these countries have stricter cold chain requirements. Sinopharm’s vaccines can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) or at normal refrigeration temperatures.
Sinopharm’s vaccine has been approved in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and will be used in Moroko in the next.
Other countries have also been purchasing doses of another Chinese vaccine candidate produced by Sinovac Biotech. Turkey received 3 million doses of vaccine this week. Both Indonesia and Brazil have purchased Sinovac vaccines.
China is eager to distribute vaccines globally, out of the hope of a pandemic that broke out in the central city of Wuhan a year ago to repair its damaged image.
President Xi Jinping vowed to donate vaccines to the world as a public good, and China has also joined the COVAX plan, which is a global equal distribution and use plan.
Shen Bo, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “We eagerly hope that the Chinese vaccine will be included in the COVAX vaccine library as soon as possible and will be prequalified by the WHO as soon as possible.”
Officials said the vaccine standards were formulated in “close cooperation” with the World Health Organization.
Reaching the qualifications of the World Health Organization can to some extent guarantee the quality and efficacy of Chinese vaccines to other parts of the world, because Chinese vaccines are already facing reputation problems Come back home. This will also open the way for Chinese vaccines to be distributed in COVAX and potentially in countries without their own regulatory agencies.
Ashley St. John, an immunologist at the Duke-National University School of Medicine in Singapore, said: “It is exciting that there is another vaccine that can be distributed where there is no cold chain.” “But at the same time, we The excitement must be eased. We must understand its long-term efficacy, its impact on transmission and its impact on serious diseases.”
Wu reports from Taipei, Taiwan.
The name of the Chinese drug regulatory agency has been corrected to the National Medical Products Administration instead of the Medical Production Administration.