Chinese vaccine maker inks deal in Brazil for final testing
Beijing has mobilized its health authorities, drug regulators and research institutes to work around the clock with local companies to come up with the world’s first effective vaccine for Covid-19.Updated: Jun 12, 2020, 17:20 IST
China’s leading coronavirus vaccine developer signed an agreement with a drugmaker in Brazil to conduct further testing of its shot’s efficacy, as the global race intensifies to come up with the first viable candidate to prevent Covid-19.Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd. is teaming up with Instituto Butantan to conduct the final phase of a three-part human testing of a vaccine it developed against the novel coronavirus, the company said in a statement. A Sinovac spokesman said it will need to obtain regulatory approval in Brazil before conducting the trial.
Once approved, Sinovac and Instituto Butantan will kick off the trial involving 9,000 people in July. The Brazilian drugmaker will get to license the Chinese vaccine and make it available in the South American country, Sinovac said.
Beijing has mobilized its health authorities, drug regulators and research institutes to work around the clock with local companies to come up with the world’s first effective vaccine for Covid-19.
Half of the 10 coronavirus vaccines now reaching the crucial final stage of human testing are developed in China. But that phase requires the testing of several thousand people still exposed to the virus, and the near-eradication of Covid-19 in China makes it all but impossible for researchers to carry out trials there.
Faced with that problem, Chinese vaccine developers have been looking for partnerships in other countries to evaluate their shots’ ability to prevent Covid-19, which has infected more than 7.5 million and killed over 421,000 worldwide.
Brazil has become one of the biggest hot spots in the global pandemic -- with more than 800,000 infections, it has the most cases after the U.S. A vaccine jointly developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc also has been authorized to conduct testing among some 2,000 people in Brazil.
Other vaccine developers are testing closer to home. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. is set to conduct the final trials for its vaccine next month among 30,000 people in the U.S.In an interview with Bloomberg News last month, Sinovac’s Chief Executive Officer Yin Weidong said the company is in talks with regulators in other countries and the World Health Organization to carry out phase III trials outside China.
Another Chinese vaccine maker, Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics Inc., which has developed a vaccine against the virus with the Chinese military, has won approval to test its shot in Canada, but will need to complete the first two phases that focus more on safety before moving on to efficacy testing.
In a further sign of how quickly China is moving to test the viability of its shots, vaccines developed by China National Biotec Group Co. are said to be offered to employees of state-run firms before they travel overseas for work.