Chinese regulators announced on Thursday that they have approved Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines, and that distribution of the vaccines will commence soon. Sinopharm, the manufacturers of the approved vaccine, is a state-owned pharmaceutical. The company announced on Wednesday that its vaccine has shown 79.34% effectiveness based on initial results from the vaccine’s Phase 3 clinical trials.
Before the announcement, China had been administering the vaccine under emergency use authorization to key groups. In the past 15 days, over 3 million people have received the vaccine, according to the vice-minister of the country’s National Health Commission, Zeng Yixin. Apart from the 3 million doses given out in December, 1.5 million doses had previously been administered in November, Zeng added, during a Thursday news conference.
Zeng told reporters that the outcome of the inoculation has been great so far, stating that fewer than 0.1% of those who have received the vaccine, reported a fever. One of the subsidiaries of Sinopharm, Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., stated in a press release on Wednesday that initial results from the vaccine’s trials have shown that the vaccine is safe and effective in protecting people against the coronavirus.
However, the company did not provide the necessary details about the trials and the vaccine’s side effects. Of the country’s COVID-19 treatments and vaccines that are in the final trial stages, Sinopharm has two vaccines. Sinopharm did not state, in the announcements, which of its vaccines, the National Medical Products Administration approved on Thursday. The agency is China’s equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration.
The Sinopharm vaccine was tested in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE trial of the vaccine started in July, and according to scientists involved in the study, the vaccine showed 86% effectiveness. The vaccine has been cleared for public use in the UAE. Other vaccines have shown higher effectiveness rates including Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is 91% effective. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna trials in the United States revealed results of about 95% effectiveness, CNN reports.
The AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine which has been approved for public use in the United Kingdom is less effective than the Chinese vaccine, with an average of 70% effectiveness.
Trial results for the Sinopharm vaccine were released weeks after other countries announced the results of their vaccine studies. The late announcement and the omission of adequate details about the vaccine might stall its success globally. Regardless, the Asian country is proceeding with plans to start the distribution of the vaccine. According to a Chinese vaccine expert, the country plans to vaccinate 50 million people before February.
The vaccine deadline is to ensure that before the country celebrates its Lunar New Year holidays in February, a reasonable number of citizens would have been inoculated. The country also announced that it is working towards delivering millions of doses of vaccines to some countries, as earlier promised. Developing countries and countries that have carried out trials for the Chinese vaccines will benefit from the vaccine delivery, according to reports.