The health authorities in China have approved a state-owned Covid vaccine for public use for the general public, the government announced.
At a press conference in Beijing, a state task force announced that the vaccine had exceeded the standards of the World Health Organization and that it would help establish effective immunity in China.
Health officials said vulnerable groups would be put ahead of the general population. Key groups have already received vaccinations under emergency permits, including about one million who received the Sinopharm vaccine.
Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission, said he was aiming for 60-70% vaccination, which is expected to establish herd immunity. “As the Chinese vaccine is safe and effective, we want to encourage our people to participate on a voluntary and informed basis and with consent,” he said.
Officials did not give specific dates, but said the rollout would begin “soon” at a “significantly reduced” cost.
Zheng Zhongwei said the vaccine is a public good and that the cost of production is “the only price base”.
Sinopharm is a state-owned pharmaceutical company with two candidates for vaccination under China’s five experimental treatments in international final stages. Public statements about Synopharm vaccines do not seem to explain which of the two candidates is being discussed.
The approval followed Wednesday’s announcement by Sinopharm that phase 3 trials had found the vaccine to be 79% effective. This followed trials reported in the UAE earlier in December with 86% efficiency. The vaccines have not been tested in China because the virus is not common, authorities say.
Chinese vaccine developers have not released trial data. A health official said Thursday that the Synopharm data would be published later in Chinese and foreign medical journals.
At an annual meeting of health workers on December 22, Zhang Wenhong, head of infectious diseases at Fundan University’s Huasha Hospital, said there were concerns among Chinese people about the indigenously manufactured vaccine, and party leaders should first be vaccinated to reassure the public. set. A recording of his comments quickly spread on Chinese social media before being censored.
Sinopharm and rival developer Sinovac created their vaccines via the more traditional method of using an inactive virus to elicit an immune response. It is more difficult to produce quickly than other species and may elicit the immune response, but they have shown historical success.
Mao Junfeng, head of consumer products at the Chinese Ministry of Industry, said vaccine producers had increased production capacity. “We believe that China’s vaccine production will meet the demand for large – scale vaccination, and in the future the ministry will follow the plans. [of the central government] … and help businesses expand production capacity and ensure that a smooth production and supply chain provides efficient and accessible vaccines to the people. ‘
In September, the UAE was the first country outside China to approve the use of a Sinopharm vaccine. It has since been made available in Bahrain and shipped to Egypt, while Morocco plans to rely on vaccinating 80% of its adult population. Other countries have signed on to receive the Sinovac vaccine, the other forerunner in China. In October, China announced its accession to Covax, the international initiative aimed at ensuring equitable global access to vaccines.