Almost a million people in China took a Covid-19 emergency vaccine that is still in the testing phase, said the company that developed the vaccine.
Chinese authorities launched the vaccine, developed by the National Pharmaceutical Group of China (Sinopharm), to select groups of people in July, including Chinese government officials, students and workers traveling abroad, before the vaccines have been proven to work .
Sinopharm’s statements, made in an interview with President Liu Jingzhen posted on WeChat, do not specify which of the vaccines were administered, but say that individuals have traveled to more than 150 countries around the world and “there has not been a single case of infection after inoculation ”.
“Only individual patients had some mild symptoms,” he said.
Sinopharm’s two vaccine candidates are among the five Chinese candidates in international clinical trials because the domestic prevalence of the disease is very low. At least three – all inactivated vaccines from Sinopharm and Sinovac – have been approved for emergency use outside clinical trials, and some local governments have allowed residents to get the Sinovac vaccine.
In September, the United Arab Emirates was the first country outside of China to approve the emergency use of the Sinopharm vaccine.
The trials abroad have caused some controversy, in part because of the lack of communication from the Chinese authorities. In August, 48 Chinese construction workers were prevented from entering Papua New Guinea because of concerns, they had received an unnamed experimental vaccine.
China has pledged to supply vaccines to several countries, fulfilling potentially conflicting promises to prioritize places like the Philippines and African nations. Speaking at the APEC conference on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised closer international coordination on vaccine development and distribution policies.
About a dozen vaccine candidates worldwide are in the final stages of testing and, as mass production of vaccines approaches, governments began to prioritize recipients.
Pfizer / BioNTech already published interim data last week and final data this week showing that its vaccine protects almost 95% of people against illness. The American company Moderna presented similar results in provisional data.
Alex Azar, the US health secretary, said this week that Pfizer will seek emergency use authorization for its vaccine on Friday. Infectious diseases The expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that both Pfizer and Moderna have shown “extraordinarily impressive” efficacy, and the United States government “will be injecting people with high-priority vaccines by the end of December”.
Meanwhile, the UK Oxford vaccine group has muffled expectations that the 100m doses ordered by the UK will be ready by Christmas, saying it is not in competition with the other companies.
The UK’s request for 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine may arrive earlier, but its 5 million doses of Moderna are unlikely to arrive until early next year.
Additional reporting by Lillian Yang