China ready for mass production of COVID-19 vaccines

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China has five COVID-19 vaccines currently undergoing phase-3 clinical trials and is now preparing to begin mass production.

Two are inactivated vaccines developed separately by institutes in Beijing and Wuhan under China National Biotec Group (CNBG) affiliated to Sinopharm, and one is the inactivated vaccine CoronaVac produced by Sinovac Research & Development Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Sinovac Biotech. In addition, there is also an adenovirus vector vaccine created by the Academy of Military Sciences and CanSino Biologics Inc, and a recombinant protein vaccine developed by the Institute of Microbiology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

"So far, 50,000 people have been inoculated as part of the phase-3 clinical trials for our two inactivated vaccines, and we expect the results very soon," said Yang Xiaoming, president of CNBG. He added that among the more than 600,000 people already given the vaccines for authorized emergency use, no antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) has yet been reported.

Yin Weidong, president of Sinovac Biotech, has stated that CoronaVac is undergoing phase-3 clinical trials in Brazil, with interim analysis expected to be completed in early December.

According to Yu Xuefeng, chairman of CanSino Biologics Inc., phase-3 clinical trials of the company's adenovirus vector vaccine — which began in September in several countries including Pakistan — are now well underway. Among the more than 10,000 participants taking part in the trials, no emergency safety incidents have been reported.

The recombinant protein vaccine produced by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co., Ltd was approved for clinical trials on June 19, and phase-1 and phase-2 trials were launched on June 23 and July 10, respectively. At present, the vaccine has entered phase-3 trials in several countries, including Uzbekistan.

In terms of vaccine production, it has been reported that with the support of the Beijing municipal government, a CNBG production facility for inactivated COVID-19 vaccines was constructed in Beijing in just 60 days and opened for use following biosafety inspections. Another of CNBG's facilities in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province, has also been enlarged to increase vaccine production capacity.

The capacity of the two facilities is expected to reach 300 million doses annually, with 100 million doses to be supplied by the end of this year, according to Zhang Yuntao, vice president of CNBG. The annual output of the second stage, which will take three to six months to complete, will reach 1 billion doses.

Sinovac Biotech has also announced an annual production capacity of more than 300 million doses and can produce 1 million doses by the end of this year, according to Yin Weidong, adding that the capacity may be increased in the future based on market demand.

Sinovac started mass production of its COVID-19 vaccines after expert evaluation and the approval of relevant departments at the end of August.

Regarding the adenovirus vector vaccine, Yu Xuefeng previously told the media that planned capacity is 100 million to 200 million doses annually. 

Reports show that once approved, the output of the recombinant protein vaccines will total 300 million doses annually without the need for high-level biosafety laboratory production plants, enough to inoculate 150 million people.

Content created in partnership with Science and Technology Daily

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