China shows Covid-19 vaccines for the first time
There are high hopes for the small vials of liquid on display at a Beijing trade fair this week: vaccine candidates produced by Chinese companies Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm.
Neither have hit the market yet, but manufacturers expect them to be approved after major phase 3 testing later in the year.
A Sinovac representative told AFP that his company had already “completed the construction of a vaccine factory” capable of producing 300 million doses a year.
On Monday, people at the fair huddled around booths displaying potential game-changing vaccines.
China, facing a storm of foreign criticism for its early handling of the pandemic, has been trying to reuse the Covid-19 story.
State media and officials now emphasize the rebirth of Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the deadly pathogen emerged, as a success story in the fight against the virus.
They are also touting the progress on domestic vaccines as a sign of China’s leadership and resilience in the face of an unprecedented health threat that has hit the global economy.
In May, President Xi Jinping pledged to turn any possible vaccine developed by China into a “global public good.”
Potential vaccines on display are among nearly 10 around the world entering phase 3 trials, usually the last step before regulatory approval, as countries scramble to eliminate the virus and restart battered economies.
Sinopharm said he anticipates that the antibodies from his injection will last between one and three years, although the final result will only be known after trials.
China’s nationalist tabloid Global Times reported last month that “the price of vaccines will not be high.”
Every other dose should cost less than 1,000 yuan ($ 146), the report said, citing the president of Sinopharm, who told the media that he had already been injected with one of the candidate vaccines.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday that another candidate vaccine, developed by Chinese military scientists, may cope with mutations in the coronavirus.
As of last month, at least 5.7 billion doses of vaccines in development had been reserved worldwide.
But the World Health Organization has warned that widespread immunization against Covid-19 may not be in play until the middle of next year.