The government announced that the Chinese health department has approved the Covid vaccine produced by the state-owned Sinopharm Group to be widely used in the population.
At a press conference in Beijing, a national working group announced that the vaccine has exceeded the standards of the World Health Organization and will help build effective immunity in China.
Health officials say that vulnerable groups will take precedence over the general population. Key groups have been vaccinated under emergency approval, and about one million of them are receiving Sinopharm vaccine.
Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said that its goal is to achieve a coverage rate of 60% to 70%, which is expected to enhance the immunity of the herd. He said: “Since the Chinese vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, we hope to encourage our people to participate and get consent on a voluntary and informed basis.”
The officials did not give a specific date, but stated that the deployment would begin “soon”
Zheng Zhongwei said that this vaccine is a kind of public goods, and the production cost is “the only basis for pricing.”
Sinopharm is a state-owned pharmaceutical company. In the final stage of international trials, there are two candidate vaccines among five experimental therapies in China. The public statement on the Sinopharm vaccine does not seem to clarify which of the two drug candidates are under discussion.
Sinopharm announced on Wednesday that its vaccine effectiveness rate was found to be 79% in a phase III clinical trial. This follows the trial conducted in the UAE, which reported 86% efficacy in early December. Authorities say that because the virus is not prevalent enough, no vaccine trials have been conducted in China.
Chinese vaccine developers have not yet released trial data. Health officials said on Thursday that the Sinopharm data will be published in Chinese and foreign medical journals “later.”
At the annual meeting of health workers held on December 22, Zhang Wenhong, head of infectious diseases at the Foundation University Warsaw Hospital, said that Chinese people are worried about domestic vaccines and should first vaccinate party leaders to reassure the public. Before being censored, records of his comments quickly spread on Chinese social media.
Sinopharm and rival developer Sinopharm use more traditional methods to use inactive viruses to trigger an immune response to create vaccines. They are more difficult to produce quickly than other types of antibodies, and may cause an imbalance in the immune response, but they have achieved historic success.
Mao Junfeng, head of consumer products at the Chinese Ministry of Industry, said vaccine manufacturers have increased their production capacity. “We believe that China’s vaccine production will meet the demand for large-scale vaccination, and we look forward to the Ministry will follow the plan [of the central government] …And help companies expand production capacity and ensure a stable production and supply chain will provide people with effective and easily accessible vaccines. “
In September, the UAE was the first country outside China to approve the emergency use of the national medicine vaccine. Since then it has been provided in Bahrain and shipped to Egypt, while Morocco plans to rely on it to vaccinate 80% of the adult population. Other countries have signed agreements to accept Sinovac, China’s other leading domestic vaccine. China announced its participation in Covax in October, an international initiative to ensure equitable access to vaccines worldwide.