China OKs Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine For General Public Use

China approved Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for general public use

China on Thursday approved its first COVID-19 vaccine — a COVID-19 vaccine from Sinopharm — for general public use as the country braced for greater transmission risks over the winter.

However, no detailed efficacy data of the said vaccine had been publicly released.

Instead, vaccine developer Beijing Biological Products Institute — a unit of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group (CNBG) — on Wednesday said that its COVID-19 vaccine was 79.34% effective in preventing people from developing the coronavirus disease based on interim data.

China Sinopharm Vaccine
Photo source: ABS-CBN News

The said approval, officially announced by the National Medical Products Administration, came after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the first country to release the COVID-19 vaccine to the public.

While China had been slower than some other countries in approving COVID-19 vaccines, the country had been vaccinating some citizens for months with three different vaccine shots still undergoing late-stage clinical trials.

Last July, China launched an emergency use program aimed at essential workers and others at high risk of coronavirus infection and had administered over 1.5 million doses using at least three different products — two vaccines developed by CNBG and one vaccine by Sinovac — as of the end of November 2020.

Over 3 million additional vaccine doses had been given since December 15 as the drive to vaccinate priority groups gathered pace.

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While the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine shot trailed the over 90% success rate of rival vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, it pointed to progress China had made in the global race to develop successful vaccines against COVID-19.

Four other COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac, CanSino Biologics, CNBG’s Wuhan unit, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences were also in late-stage clinical trials and underscored China’s efforts to develop a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine to challenge Western rivals.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged to make China’s COVID-19 vaccines a global public good and it had won some large supply deals with countries including Brazil and Indonesia.

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