An employee answers questions from the public near samples of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG are displayed during a trade fair in Beijing on September 6.(AP file)
An employee answers questions from the public near samples of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG are displayed during a trade fair in Beijing on September 6.(AP file)

Top Chinese vaccine maker seeks govt nod to market Covid-19 shots

The company, which is carrying out clinical trials of the candidate vaccine abroad said it had collected data from host countries such as UAE.
By Sutirtho Patranobis , edited by Vinod Janardhanan | Hindustan Times, Beijing
UPDATED ON NOV 25, 2020 06:37 PM IST

China’s leading vaccine producer China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) said on Wednesday it has applied with the country’s regulators to market its Covid-19 vaccine.

The announcement was made by Sinopharm general manager, Shi Shengyi, state media reported.

The company, which is carrying out clinical trials of the candidate vaccine abroad said it had collected data from host countries such as UAE.

Results are expected to be good, but it is up to Chinese authorities to make the decision as the authorities have strict review standards, the company was quoted as saying.

Earlier, the company said it had submitted the vaccine’s phase-3 clinical data to China’s State Food and Drug Administration and was in the process of giving more detailed data.

The company said it is in the final stage before launching it in markets and is now making approval of the vaccine its top priority.

If approved, Sinopharm will likely become the first vaccine developer outside of Russia to see its shots being made available for general public, underscoring China’s push to be a major player in supplying inoculations to countries around the world.

Western drugmakers like Pfizer Inc. are only at the stage of seeking authorisation for emergency use of their shots, a status China granted to its developers in July.

Five Chinese vaccine candidates are under clinical trials in countries including the UAE, Brazil, Pakistan and Peru, and phase-I and II clinical trials of other candidates have been accelerated, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said last week at a regular briefing.

At least one million people have taken an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Sinopharm through the country’s emergency use programme, the firm had said last week.

China launched the emergency use programme in July, which so far includes three vaccine candidates for essential workers and other limited groups of people.

Experts have questioned the move as clinical studies have yet to be completed to prove their safety and efficacy.

Earlier this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is ready to step up global Covid-19 vaccine cooperation, calling for better international coordination on policies to facilitate movement of people.

“China is willing to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the research and development, production and distribution of vaccines,” Xi told the G-20 Riyadh Summit via video link on Saturday.

“We will fulfil our commitments, offer help and support to other developing countries, and work hard to make vaccines a public good that citizens of all countries can use and can afford.”

Xi urged stronger international policy coordination to establish travel “fast tracks”, facilitating orderly global movement.

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