China gives conditional approval to Sinopharm COVID vaccine


China announced on Thursday that it has granted conditional marketing authorization for its first domestically-developed COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine was developed by Sinopharm's Beijing Institute of Biological Products arm. The approval comes a day after Sinopharm said its vaccine showed 79.34 per cent efficacy and a 99.52 per cent antibody-positive conversion rate in the interim results of the Phase III clinical trials.

No detailed efficacy data of the vaccine has been publicly released.

Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinopharm, a minister said on Thursday, the first official confirmation of a vaccine purchase by the South Asian country as it battles a second wave of infections.

The Sinopharm vaccine is among the five most advanced candidates from China in terms of development and has been used in its emergency use programme that has vaccinated hundreds of thousands of people since July.

Its inactivated vaccines are more easily transportable than Pfizer's candidate, which must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius - impossible in most developing countries.

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Africa's worst-hit country previously banned alcohol sales in March when it was battling its first wave of infections. He also chaired a virtual meeting of the President's Coordinating Council (PCC) and met with Cabinet on Monday.

Meanwhile, rival companies Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's vaccines have been shown to have an efficacy rate of about 95% while Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has a 91.4% efficacy rate.

It was reported that China would vaccinate as many as 50 million people from high-priority groups before the Lunar New Year holiday in February. One official said it would be affordable for the Chinese public, but another jumped in to clarify that it will be free.

"Once the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are developed and put into use, China will fulfill its commitment to make the vaccines global public goods and provide them to the world at a fair and reasonable price", said Shen Bo, a Foreign Ministry official, at the press conference.

"With each of these vaccines we're dealing with bits and pieces of information, but the Chinese companies have provided even less information than the Russian companies have", Kim Mulholland, a pediatrician at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, told The New York Times.

"This is distinct in just about every region but the typical wondering is that it has to attain 60% to guard the complete inhabitants", stated Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Overall health Commission. The drug maker says it has been conducting clinical studies in China as well as other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Peru, Argentina and Morocco.

That also hands China a diplomatic carrot at a time when it has faced widespread criticism led by the U.S. and Australia over its handling of the initial outbreak.