Provincial governments across China are placing orders for experimental, domestically made coronavirus vaccines, though health officials have yet to say how well they work or how they may reach the country’s 1.4 billion people.
Key points:

  • Chinese producer Sinopharm said it had applied for final market approval of its vaccine in November
  • The Government is yet to say how many Chinese citizens it intends to vaccinate, although high-risk populations will be prioritised
  • Chinese pharmaceutical companies say their vaccines can be stored at higher temperatures than Pfizer’s

Developers are speeding up final testing, the Chinese foreign minister said on Thursday during a UN meeting, as Britain issued approval for emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine candidate and providers scrambled to set up distribution.
China’s fledgling pharmaceutical industry has at least five vaccines from four producers being tested in more than a dozen countries including Russia, Egypt and Mexico.
Health experts say even if they are successful, the certification process for the United States, Europe, Japan and other developed countries might be too complex for them to be used there.
However, China said it will ensure the products are affordable for developing countries.
For the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic read our coronavirus live blog.
Sinovac is running clinical trials in Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia.(AP: Emrah Gurel)
One developer, China National Pharmaceutical Group, known as Sinopharm, said in November it applied for final market approval for use of its vaccine in China.
Others have been approved for emergency use on health workers and other people deemed at high risk of infection.
“We must be prepared for large-scale production,” said Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who has overseen much of the country’s response, during a visit Wednesday to developers, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Ms Sun visited one of Sinopharm’s Beijing subsidiary companies; another producer, Sinovac, and a research lab under the National Medical Products Administration, a regulatory agency that approves medical products for public use.
The Government has yet to say how many people it plans to vaccinate. Ms Sun said plans call for vaccinating border personnel and other high-risk populations this month.
Yilu Wu was given the first of two shots of a vaccine candidate produced by pharmaceutical company Sinovac.
Vaccines can be stored at higher temperatures than Pfizer’s, say companies
The companies are using more traditional techniques than Western developers.
Australia’s four COVID-19 vaccine ‘deals’
Experts say the Government’s move to lock in four different COVID-19 vaccines is “clever”, but warn of significant hurdles to overcome before they can be distributed across the country.
Read more
They say unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be kept frozen at temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees Celsius, theirs can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees.
The Chinese producers have yet to say how they might be distributed.
More than 1 million people in China have received experimental vaccines under emergency use approval.
Health experts question why China is using them on such a vast scale now that the outbreak is largely under control within its borders.
Health officials previously said China will be able to manufacture 610 million doses by the end of this year and ramp up to 1 billion doses next year.
The Government of Jiangsu province, where the major city of Nanjing is located, issued a procurement notice for vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm on Wednesday for emergency use vaccinations.
Authorities in Sichuan province in the west, which has about 85 million people, announced Monday they were already buying vaccines.
An official newspaper in Anhui province, southeast of Beijing, said a local residential committee issued a notice asking whether residents want a vaccine.
The Sichuan and Anhui announcements said the vaccine, given in two shots, would cost a total of 400 yuan ($82).
Vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm were approved for emergency use in July.
China says it will begin vaccinating high-risk populations this month.(AP: Andy Wong)
In October, Zhejiang province south of Shanghai offered the public vaccination under emergency use authorisation. It said people considered high-risk would get priority.
In November, the Communist Party secretary for Sinopharm said almost 1 million people had received its vaccine.
In September, Sinovac’s CEO said about 3,000 of its employees had taken their vaccine. He said the company provided tens of thousands of doses to the Beijing city government.
Developers have yet to disclose how effective their vaccines are and possible side effects.
Read more about coronavirus:
Clinical trials by Chinese producers continue around the world
Sinopharm has clinical trials under way in 10 countries including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Peru and Argentina with nearly 60,000 volunteers. It has built two facilities in China capable of producing 200 million doses per year.
Sinovac has trials in Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia.
Its most recent publicised data, a study in the science journal the Lancet, showed its candidate produced lower levels of antibodies in people than those who had recovered from COVID-19.
Experts have questioned the widespread use of experimental vaccines in China given its epidemic is largely under control.(MTV Documentary Films via AP)
The company projects it will be able to produce a few hundred million doses of the vaccine by February or March of next year.
Another producer, CanSino, is testing in Russia, Pakistan and Mexico and pursuing partnerships in Latin American countries.
Its vaccine, which has been used on an emergency basis with the Chinese military, uses a harmless adenovirus to carry genes into human cells to generate an immune response.
A fourth company, Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biologic Pharmacy Co, is conducting final stage trials across China.
Read more about coronavirus:

You may also like

Unbeatable Football is what they’re calling it at SuperSport and it’s easy to see why with the new season laced with rivalries, tension, tradition and more storylines than your favourite Hollywood thriller.

{“slug”:”football”,”name”:”Football”,”menu”:[],”topics”:[{“group_name”:”South Africa”,”topics”:[{“name”:”MTN8″,”slug”:”mtn8″,”parent_slug”:”mtn8″,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“logs”]},{“name”:”DStv Premiership”,”slug”:”dstv-premiership”,”parent_slug”:”dstv-premiership”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[]},{“name”:”GladAfrica Championship”,”slug”:”national-first-division”,”parent_slug”:”national-first-division”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“scorers”]},{“name”:”Bafana”,”slug”:”bafana”,”parent_slug”:”bafana”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“logs”,”top-scorers”]},{“name”:”DStv Diski Challenge Rewired”,”slug”:”dstv-diski-challenge”,”parent_slug”:”dstv-diski-challenge”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“top-scorers”]},{“name”:”Nedbank Cup”,”slug”:”nedbank-cup”,”parent_slug”:”nedbank-cup”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“logs”]},{“name”:”Carling Black Label Cup”,”slug”:”carling-black-label-cup”,”parent_slug”:”carling-black-label-cup”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“logs”,”top-scorers”]}]},{“group_name”:”Europe”,”topics”:[{“name”:”English Community Shield”,”slug”:”community-shield”,”parent_slug”:”community-shield”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“logs”,”top-scorers”]},{“name”:”UEFA Super Cup”,”slug”:”uefa-super-cup”,”parent_slug”:”uefa-super-cup”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“top-scorers”,”logs”]},{“name”:”English Championship”,”slug”:”english-championship”,”parent_slug”:”english-championship”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[“top-scorers”]},{“name”:”Premier League”,”slug”:”premier-league”,”parent_slug”:”premier-league”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[]},{“name”:”French Ligue 1″,”slug”:”france”,”parent_slug”:”france”,”uri”:null,”hidden_tabs”:[]},{“name”:”Italy Serie...