Chinese people will have access to locally developed coronavirus vaccines as early as November or December, according to a top scientist from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Clinical trials of several vaccine candidates had been progressing smoothly and preparations were being made to go into mass production, Wu Guizhen, the CDC’s chief biosafety expert, said in a programme shown on Monday night by state broadcaster CCTV.
“I joined the experimental group and had a coronavirus shot in April,” Wu said. “I’ve felt quite good in the past few months, nothing abnormal. The process of inoculation did not cause any localised pain.”
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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 30 vaccine candidates are undergoing clinical trials around the world. Of the nine to have reached the final, phase three, stage, five were developed in China.
Wu said she was optimistic about the vaccine candidates’ efficacy and safety.
“We expect them to remain effective for one to three years … [but] the results will need to be observed for a longer time.”
On the subject of mass production, Wu said experts had been assessing the capabilities of various facilities.
“Two [plants] have won approval and the appraisal of a third is under way,” she said.
In a CCTV interview broadcast last month, Zheng Zhongwei, director of the National Health Commission’s science and technology development centre, said China had been administering a locally produced Covid-19 vaccine candidate to selected groups of workers, including medical staff and border inspection officials, since July.
He said the inoculation programme would be rolled out to include people who worked in the transport and service industries and at wet markets, with the aim of creating an “immunity barrier”.
None of those who had received an initial dose reported a fever and only a few had any adverse reactions, he said.
The news that a vaccine might be available in China in as little as two months’ time came after the WHO on Monday warned of a possible resurgence in infections in October and November, after almost 308,000 new cases were reported around the world on Sunday, the highest daily total ever recorded.
“Cooperation is very important to contain the pandemic globally,” Wu said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged at a WHO meeting in May that any Covid-19 vaccines developed by China would be a “global public good” and made available to all nations.
Beijing has offered to provide a US$1 billion loan to Latin American and Caribbean countries to help them pay for vaccines, and said Mekong River countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – and African nations would be among the first to benefit.
Despite Beijing’s confidence in its products, the United States’ top infectious diseases official Anthony Fauci said it was unlikely America would use vaccines developed by either China or Russia, as their regulatory systems were far more opaque than those in the West.
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