The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed the plans by China to start administering experimental coronavirus vaccines to people while clinical trials are still underway.
This disclosure was made by a Chinese Health Commission official, Zheng Zhongwei in a news conference.
Zheng recalled that China launched its emergency programme in July, having communicated with the WHO in late June.
Hundreds of thousands of essential workers and other limited groups of people considered at high risk of infection have been given the vaccine, even though its potency and safety had not been fully established as Phase 3 clinical trials have not yet been completed.
Zheng at the news conference said, “At End-June, China’s State Council approved a plan of COVID-19 vaccine emergency use program.
After the approval, on June 29, we made a communication with the relevant representatives of the WHO Office in China, and obtained support and understanding from WHO.’’
It has been reported that Chinese Pharmaceutical firms have been quite aggressive about the development of a Covid-19 vaccine with the likes of Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm publicly displaying their vaccine candidate for the first time at a trade fair in Beijing earlier this month.
It was pointed out that China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and the US-listed Sinovac Biotech SVA.O, are developing the three vaccines under the state’s emergency use program just as a fourth COVID-19 vaccine is being developed by CanSino Biologics 6185 HK, was approved for use by the Chinese military in June.
The WHO chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, while describing it as a temporary solution, said earlier this month in Geneva that national regulatory authorities could approve use of medical products within their own jurisdictions in the current emergency situation.
He emphasized that the long-term solution in the successful development of a Covid-19 vaccine, lay in completion of Phase 3 trials, this is as China has not publicly released full details of its emergency use programme.
Zheng disclosed that China’s annual production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to reach 610 million doses by end-2020 and 1 billion doses by 2021.
He said that the price of the vaccine will be affordable for the general public.