Chinese health authorities have approved a Covid vaccine from the state-owned Sinopharm for public use on the population, the government announced.
At a press conference in Beijing, a government task force announced The vaccine It may exceed the WHO standards and will help establish effective immunity in China.
Health officials said vulnerable groups will take precedence over the general population. Major groups were already receiving vaccines under emergency approvals, including About a million Receive Sinopharma vaccine.
Zeng Yixin, vice chairman of the National Health Commission, said it aims to have a vaccination coverage of 60-70%, which is expected to solidify herd immunity. He said, «Since the Chinese vaccine has proven to be safe and effective, we would like to encourage our people to participate on a voluntary and informed basis, and with consent.»
Officials did not give specific dates but said that the start-up would begin «soon» at a «significantly reduced» cost.
Zheng Zhongwei, head of the Vaccine Research and Development Working Group, said the vaccine was a public good and the cost of production was the «only basis for pricing.»
Zeng then added that the vaccine «should be provided free of charge to all people,» and state media later reported that the vaccine would be free.
Sinopharm is a state-owned pharmaceutical company that has two vaccines that are candidates from among the five experimental treatments in China in international final phase trials. Public statements about Sinopharma vaccines do not seem to clarify which of these two candidates is being discussed.
The approval came after Sinopharm announced on Wednesday that its Phase 3 trials had found its vaccine to be 79% effective. This came on the heels of the experiments conducted on UAE reaches 86% efficiency Earlier in December. Authorities say vaccines have not been tried in China because the virus is not circulating enough.
Chinese vaccine developers have not released experimental data. On Thursday, a health official said the Sinopharm data would be published «later» in Chinese and foreign medical journals.
At the annual meeting of health workers on December 22, Zhang Wenhong, head of the infectious disease department at Huasha Hospital of Fondan University, said that there are concerns among the Chinese about the locally produced vaccine, and party leaders should be vaccinated first to reassure the public. A recording of his comments quickly spread on Chinese social media before it was censored.
Sinopharm and rival developer Sinovac pioneered their vaccines using the traditional method of using an inactive virus to stimulate an immune response. It is difficult to synthesize more quickly than the other species and has the potential to elicit an imbalanced immune response, but has shown historic success.
Mao Junfeng, head of consumer products with the Chinese Ministry of Industry, said that vaccine producers had boosted production capacity. We believe that the vaccine production in China will meet the demand for large-scale vaccination, and looking forward, the ministry will follow the plans [of the central government] … and helping enterprises expand their production capacity and ensure that a smooth production and supply chain will provide effective and accessible vaccines for people. «
In September, the UAE was the first country outside of China to approve the emergency use of Sinopharma vaccine. It has since been made available in Bahrain and shipped to Egypt, while Morocco plans to rely on it to vaccinate 80% of the adult population. Other countries signed up to receive the Sinovac vaccine, the favorite in China to produce it domestically. In October, China announced its joining Covax, an international initiative aimed at ensuring equitable global access to vaccines.