China Gives Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine for Use, Chasing More Than 90% Success Rate

China Gives Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine for Use
Photo Credit: The New Yorker

On Thursday, China approved the first Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for general public use.

A shot developed by the state-supported pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm affiliate has been approved for use in China as the mainland prepares for higher transmission risks over the winter.

No comprehensive vaccine efficacy data were publicly released, but its manufacturer, Beijing Biological Products Institute, a unit of the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) subsidiary of Sinopharm, said its vaccine was 79.34 percent effective on Wednesday to prevent people from developing the disease on the basis of interim data.

The approval, declared by the National Medical Products Administration, comes after the first country to carry out the vaccine to the public this month was the United Arab Emirates, and as Pakistan announced a 1.2 million dose purchase agreement with Sinopharm.

Though China has been slower in authorizing COVID-19 vaccines than some other nations, some people have been inoculated for months with three separate shots still undergoing late-stage trials.

In July, China initiated an emergency use program aimed at critical staff and those at high risk of infection, using at least three different drugs, two developed by CNBG and one by Sinovac Biotech, to administer more than 4.5 million doses as of Dec. 15.

Although the efficacy of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine shot tracks the success rate of more than 90% of rival vaccines from Pfizer Inc and its partners BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc, China has made progress in the global race to produce effective vaccines for COVID-19.

In late stage research, China has at least five vaccines developed by Sinovac, CNBG units, CanSino Biologics and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, highlighting its efforts to create a homegrown vaccine to challenge Western rivals.

President Xi Jinping has vowed to make China’s vaccines a global public good and has won several broad supply deals with the most populous countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America, including Indonesia and Brazil.

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