China approves Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine

China’s national regulator has approved Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use by the general public.

This is the second vaccine approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA).

Both of the vaccines, along with another experimental vaccine from Sinopharm, have been used in China’s vaccination programme.

More than 31 million doses have been administered, mainly targeting groups at higher infection risks, while a fourth experimental vaccine from CanSino Biologics has been given to military personnel.

Brazilian clinical trial results published last month showed the vaccine, dubbed Coronavac, is just over 50% effective.

It works by using inactivated viral particles to expose the immune system, which mounts an immune response that fights off the active virus in the event of an infection.

Initially, researchers from the Butantan Institute which conducted trials in Brazil, said the vaccine showed 78% efficacy against mild-to-severe COVID-19 cases.

They later updated data to include a group of very mild infections among those who received the shot but did not require clinical assistance.

Including this data produced an efficacy rate of 50%, but researchers noted that the vaccine is 78% effective in preventing mild cases that needed treatment and 100% effective in staving off moderate to serious cases.

Researchers in Turkey had previously reported an efficacy figure of 91.25%, while Indonesian researchers had found it was 65.3%, in interim results from late-stage trials.

Sinovac said it expects to be able to produce more than a billion doses per year in the form of bulk ingredient, starting this month.

Reuters reported that Sinovac is expanding its capacity to fill vaccine into vials and syringes, which is lagging behind manufacturing capacity.

Filling and finishing will also be outsourced to overseas partners.

China plans to provide 10 million doses to the World Health Organization-backed COVAX for every country in the world.

The main target for the scheme will be developing countries as many high GDP nations have already snapped up hundreds of millions of doses each with their national vaccination schemes.

Feature image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Laboratories/NIH

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