China’s drug regulator has approved the country’s first vaccination against coronavirus for general use, a sign of confidence in the experimental shots the country plans to develop inside and outside its borders.
China’s national medical products authorized a state-owned Covid-19 vaccine China National Biotec Group Co., a unit of Sinopharm, officials told reporters in Beijing on Thursday.
With the approval, the vaccine – which has been allowed for emergency use in China since the middle of the year, along with other precursor shots – will be made commercially available, which means it can be administered to the general population. U.S. to Singapore regulators have approved shots over the past month, including vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, but it was largely for emergency use, a status that China granted to its developers months ago.
Zin Yixin, deputy minister of the National Health Commission, said Zeng Yixin, deputy minister of the country’s national health commission, said the briefing.
The country has already administered more than 4.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, up from just 3 million since mid-December, Zeng said. It is said which aims to vaccinate 50 million people against the virus by February, ahead of the annual Moon New Year holiday. The proportion of adverse reactions, including allergies, is about two out of every million, Zeng said on Thursday.
After the briefing, state media, including the People’s Daily newspaper, reported that the vaccine would be provided free of charge to Chinese citizens. While Zeng had predicted that the shots would be free, specific details about the rollout were not provided.
“Vaccinations are by nature a public good and the price will vary according to the extent of use,” Zeng said during the briefing. “But the broader premise is that it will be offered free of charge to the entire population.”
The vote for wider use underscores China’s determination to play a key role in providing vaccinations to its own people and countries around the world. However, the country faces challenges in winning the trust of millions of people who have to rely on their vaccines.
China struggles to make world trust with its vaccines
Chinese developers were sluggish compared to their western counterparts in releasing clinical trial data. raising questions about transparency, efficacy and safety as the world puts a laser focus on which vaccines will be the most successful in fighting the pandemic. Pfizer and Moderna, which have developed leading coronavirus vaccines using messenger RNA technology, have submitted data to the FDA that is publicly available. AstraZeneca’s peer-reviewed results were published in The Lancet this month.
President Wu Yonglin said on Thursday that CNBG would publish detailed data on his shots in recognized international medical journals.
“We can not simply compare whether Chinese vaccines are better or foreign,” said Zheng Zhongwei, an official of the National Health Commission. “Only by fully evaluating the safety, effectiveness, accessibility and affordability of each one can we do a scientific review.”
Lack of trust
Conflicting interim data released by some of the companies contributed to the lack of confidence in China’s vaccines. CNBG said on Wednesday its shot was effective in preventing Covid-19 in 79.3% of people, less than the 86% previously reported from its trials in the United Arab Emirates.
Competitive local developer Meanwhile, Sinovac Biotech Ltd. has not yet yielded definitive results on how effective the vaccine is, with trials in Brazil and Turkey suggesting that the shot on both sides has a protection rate of 90%. A person familiar with the trials said last week that the company continues to reconcile the results of independent Phase III trials in Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia and Chile.
The Pfizer and Moderna shots yielded better results, reducing the symptomatic Covid-19 cases by more than 90% in giant trials. But the Chinese vaccines have the advantage that they can be stored and distributed more easily because they do not need to be frozen, as the mRNA shots do, which makes distribution to rural areas and developing countries easier.
The approval for general use is unlikely to make a big difference in China itself, as the country has largely eliminated the local transmission of the virus through strict local closures and mass tests. But it could be a game changer for other countries experiencing uncontrollable outbreaks – such as Indonesia and Peru – that offer China’s vaccinations.
The vaccines could also help China gain geopolitical influence and restore an image damaged by criticism of the initial response to the virus and its role as the original epicenter. President Xi Jinping has promised to share any successful vaccine abroad, and China has joined Covax, a program supported by the World Health Organization, which aims to provide a fair supply of working vaccines for both rich and poor countries. ensure.
China’s race for Covid-19 Vaccine raises safety questions
Chinese vaccines will be fairly and reasonably priced as a public good for the world, and the country is considering various ways to distribute shots to developing countries, including donations, said Shen Bo, a Foreign Ministry official.
Beijing has mobilized its regulators, research institutes and companies to come up with vaccinations shortly after the new pathogen late in 2019 first came from the central Chinese city of Wuhan. This gave the vaccine candidates an edge, and they were one of the first in the world to start testing people.
But the Western counterparts were faster in providing data on the major Phase III trials. The near elimination of the pathogen in China caused delays for the local developers, who had to skarrel to find overseas test areas where the pathogen is still spreading rapidly.
Despite the delays, more than a million Chinese were shot under the emergency use program – the definition of which has been expanded to include frontline medical workers, state-owned enterprises and students traveling abroad. Even government officials and corporate executives had access to the shots, raising fears that a black market was developing.
China now has 14 vaccinations in clinical trials, five of which were in the last phase of phase III, Xu Nanping, deputy chief of the Ministry of Science and Technology, said at the briefing on Thursday.
– With the help of John Liu, Claire Che, Kenneth Wong and Timothy Annett
(Updates with free vaccine reports, starting in the sixth paragraph)