China’s first COVID-19 vaccine granted approval

A vaccine developed by a Chinese state-controlled company has gained conditional approval after the firm claimed 79 per cent efficacy on Wednesday. 

Sinopharm, the pharmaceutical company that developed the new vaccine, saw its vaccine also gain approval in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), although those countries claimed it had an 86 per cent efificacy rate. 

No further explanation has been given for the disrepancy to date, with no details of analysis released by any party.

Observers say that more information will be required for the vaccine to gain market share globally, especially in developed countries. 

China was the epicenter of the initial outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic at the start of the year. Tough lockdowns and other restrictions have kept the official death rate to just 4,781 and infections below 96,000.

On December 31 last year, Chinese officials told the World Health Organisation they were investigating 27 cases of viral pneumonia.

Announcing the conditional approval on Thursday, Chen Shifei, deputy commissioner of China’s National Medical Products Administration, said: “The known benefits of Sinopharm’s new inactivated coronavirus vaccine are bigger than the known and potential risks.”

China has already vaccinated more than 1 million workers with jabs approved for emergency use, and faces a major challenge in inoculating the bulk of its 1.3 billion population. 

China will focus its first round of inoculations on those in frontline roles, officials have previously said, including medical personnel and those working in public places. A second phase will begin in the spring.

This follows news of the UK Government’s approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine just yesterday.

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