A Chinese pharmaceutical company said on Wednesday that an early analysis of the results of clinical trials showed that one of its coronavirus vaccines is effective, an ad that sent a positive signal for the global spread of Chinese vaccines but lacks critical details.
The company, which is a state-owned company called Sinopharm, He said the vaccine was a candidate Conducted by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, its efficacy rate was 79 percent based on an interim analysis of Phase 3 trials. Sinopharma said it had applied to Chinese regulators to allow the vaccine to be widely used.
If the results are backed up, they will reinforce claims Chinese officials made in recent days that the country’s vaccines are safe and effective. The authorities have already moved ahead with the plans To vaccinate 50 million people In China by mid-February, when hundreds of millions are expected to travel for the Lunar New Year holidays.
But the Sinopharm announcement, which is only a few sentences, did not provide any details of the results and left many questions unanswered, adding to Lack of clarity That has hindered the development of a coronavirus vaccine in China for several months.
China’s drive to develop a home-grown vaccine speaks to the country’s technological and diplomatic ambitions. A successful vaccine would support the country’s claim to be a peer and competitor of the United States and other advanced countries in biomedical sciences.
The results of the Sinopharm vaccine show that it is less effective than other vaccines that have been approved in other countries. However, the results are well above the 50 percent threshold that would make the vaccine effective in the eyes of the medical establishment.
Two other coronavirus vaccines modern And the Pfizer — BioetecIt has already been proven to have an efficiency rate of around 95 percent. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is licensed in more than 40 countries. Moderna is licensed in the United States, while other countries are evaluating the results of its trial. Russia announced that it has a Sputnik V vaccine With an efficiency rate of 91 percent A massive vaccination campaign began.
Beijing has relied heavily on the promise of vaccines to strengthen ties with developing countries that are vital to China’s interests. Officials toured the world pledging to introduce Chinese vaccines as a «global public good», Wizard attack that United States of America You may seek to confront, especially when The campaign encroached on its own backyard.
The political stakes in the race to get a vaccine are especially high for the ruling Communist Party in China, whose authoritarian rule was criticized for stifling information and downplaying the importance of the virus when it first appeared in Wuhan late last year. A successful vaccine, if made available to the world quickly, could aid repair Party image Globally and its leader Xi Jinping. The Chinese companies have said their vaccine will be cheaper and easier to transport, which, if proven, could give them great appeal in the developing world.
Chinese vaccines may still be welcome with other questions. The scientists said the headlines released by Sinopharm were encouraging, but the lack of supportive data made it difficult to independently assess the results. Sinopharm did not disclose the size of the trial community or information about any serious side effects, and the data points that scientists are looking for in such versions.
«With each of these vaccines we deal with bits and pieces of information, but Chinese companies have provided even less information than Russian companies,» said Dr. Kim Mulholland, a pediatrician at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. Australia.
Dr. Mulholland, who has been involved in overseeing several vaccine trials, including coronavirus trials, said: «At least with Russian vaccines we have been told the number of cases and the basis of evidence for why their vaccine is so effective.» 19 vaccines.
Michael Baker, a professor in the department of global health at the University of Otago in Wellington and an advisor to the New Zealand government, said that although the preliminary numbers from Sinopharm appear promising, it is difficult to know for sure without further details.
He said, «It’s too light on the details.» «One of the questions is what the markets are proposing to use these vaccines in, because if they want to have a global market, it is clear that they will have to provide all these details.»
Details about the effectiveness of another Chinese vaccine candidate, provided by Sinovac, a private vaccine maker in Beijing, It was released in a piecemeal fashion.
Even before the current vaccination campaign, Chinese officials and companies had already administered Chinese-made vaccines, most of them produced by Sinopharma, for more than a million. People In China. The campaign drew criticism from foreign scientists who said they were concerned that authorities were not monitoring people closely after they received the injections outside of clinical trials.
For China, a vaccine that could help protect 1.4 billion people is crucial to its plans to revitalize the economy.
The country has wiped out the Coronavirus with a set of restrictions on foreign arrivals, mass testing, and severe closures of neighborhoods whenever any cases are discovered. But officials remain concerned that winter could bring a new wave of infections and hope a widely available vaccine will help prevent a resurgence and prepare the country for the resumption of regular travel and trade.
Sinovac and Sinopharm use inactivated coronaviruses to make their vaccines — a tried-and-true method dating back more than 130 years. Companies are using chemicals to disable the genes of the virus so that it cannot reproduce. However, the inactivated coronavirus can still cause the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against it. In comparison, Moderna and Pfizer are taking a revolutionary gene-based approach that has not previously been approved for widespread use.
Experts say there are drawbacks Inactivated vaccines such as those made by Sinovac and Cinopharma. They require starting with large batches of live coronavirus samples, which can pose a biosecurity risk. Once live samples are inactivated, an additional manufacturing step is required to ensure that none of them survive after treatment.
Another advantage of Vaccines Made by Moderna and Pfizer, it is faster to make and is said to be more stable than conventional vaccines. Pfizer expects it will be able to produce up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021, while Moderna expects it to be able to produce 500 million to 1 billion doses.
The Chinese government has promised to produce 610 million doses by the end of the year and expects to produce more than one billion doses next year. Several large countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, where Chinese companies are running trials, have received shipments of more than a million doses of Senovac vaccines. Turkey has it He ordered 50 million doses.
People who have been previously vaccinated in China said the two-dose regimen costs around $ 60 to $ 150. According to people who have received the Sinovac vaccine, the company charges about $ 30 for a dose. Sinopharm said the cost for the two doses should be under $ 150. The government has said it will not make the vaccine free.
Elsie Chen contributed to the report.