Week's news analysis

China's "whatever it costs" plan
against Covid-19

By The Editor - 14 October 2020

Covid-19 pandemic started in China, almost a year ago. It might be treated in China a year later, thanks to a potential chinese successful vaccine candidate. For months, the country has raced to discover, test and bring to market a treatment that could save the entire population and the economy.

Beijing authorities are ready to experiment two coronavirus vaccines from China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a subsidiary of Sinopharm, on Chinese populations before the end of phase III trials. The drugs were dispensed as part of a limited-use programme that began in July. Sinovac - another leading vaccine producer - has also been carrying out phase III trials in countries in South America and Southeast Asia.

A vaccine jointly developed by CanSino Biologics and the Chinese military has been approved for phase III trials in countries in Europe and Asia. A fourth player, Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co., one of the world's largest producers of hepatitis B vaccines, said it will begin testing its Covid -19 vaccine candidate on people immediately, after it was found to protect mice and monkeys from the new virus.

Hundreds of thousands of essential workers at ports, hospitals and other high-risk areas have already been given an experimental vaccine since July. Chinese drug companies were also considering the possibility to conduct phase III Covid-19 vaccine trials in Bangladesh. Sinopharm and National Biotec were eyeing the possibility of clinical trials to be conducted on 40 000 people.

Roughly 350 000 people have taken experimental coronavirus vaccines developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG) as part of the country's emergency inoculation programme. So far, none of those who have taken the vaccines through the emergency-use program or clinical trials have shown antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) effect, according to company chairman Yang Xiaoming, cited in Yahoo News, end of September.

Meanwhile, Beijing has also expanded flu vaccination in preparation for potential Covid-19 wave. Authorities are planning to launch a "full-scale influenza vaccination program" in October to try to avoid dual infections involving COVID-19 and seasonal flu. The city has set up 446 free influenza vaccination centers and 480 centers under a self-paying vaccine program in medical and health institutions, according to the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

China has become a real worldwide turntable for clinical tests on almost 40 different Covid-19 projects. According to the World Health Organization, Chinese institutions are responsible for four of the 10 candidates in the final stages of testing. Beijing is on track to produce over 600 million doses by the end of the year, while annual production capacity could reach at least one billion doses next year.

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