China on Thursday approved its first COVID-19 vaccine for general public use, a shot developed by a subsidiary of state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm as it prepares for greater risk of transmission over the winter.
Detailed efficacy data on the vaccine has not been released, but its developer, the Beijing Biological Products Institute, a unit of Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG), said on Wednesday that its vaccine was 79.34% effective on people to prevent the disease from developing on intermediate dates.
The approval announced by the National Medical Products Administration comes after the United Arab Emirates became the first country to open the vaccine to the public earlier this month.
While China has been slower than several other countries in approving COVID-19 vaccines, it has been vaccinating some citizens for months with three different vaccinations that are still in the late stages.
China launched an emergency program in July targeting key workers and others at high risk of infection. By the end of November, China had administered more than 1.5 million doses of at least three different products – two from CNBG and one from Sinovac.
More than 3 million additional doses have been administered since December 15 as efforts to vaccinate priority groups gain momentum.
While the effectiveness of the Sinopharm shot lags behind the success rate of more than 90% of competing vaccines from Pfizer Inc and its partners BioNTech and Moderna Inc, it indicates progress China is making in the global race to develop successful COVID-19 vaccines Has.
Four other vaccines from Sinovac, the Wuhan division of CNBG, CanSino Biologics, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are also in late-stage trials, underscoring China’s efforts to develop a homegrown vaccine to challenge Western rivals.
President Xi Jinping has pledged to make China’s vaccines a global public good and has won several major supply deals with countries like Indonesia and Brazil – the most populous countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America, respectively.
Call to get vaccinated
While China has kept new coronavirus outbreaks under control, it is stepping up the emergency program to contain the risks over the winter. The virus appeared in a market in downtown Wuhan a year ago.
The South China Morning Post reported that China would vaccinate up to 50 million people from high-priority groups before the New Year holiday in February.
“We urge people to actively participate in vaccination to protect themselves, family members and others, which also helps fight the global disease,” said Zeng Yixin, an official with the National Health Commission, in a briefing Thursday.
The price of the vaccine would depend on the level of use, but the “requirement” is that it be free to the public in China, he said.
The vaccine is officially approved as “regulatory”, a conditional green light to vaccines that are deemed urgently needed to address major public health emergencies, even though full clinical trials have not yet been completed.
Approval comes when the UK approved a second COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, a shot developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca as it battles a major winter flood caused by a new variant of the virus.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)