Chinese regulators approve first COVID-19 vaccine for general use

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Dec. 31 (UPI) — China announced Thursday its regulators have authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine for general use in the country — a candidate co-developed by state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm.

The National Medical Products Administration gave the green light to the vaccine from Sinopharm subsidiaries China National Biotec Group and Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., officials said.

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“This vaccine will be provided free of charge to all Chinese people,” National Health Commission Vice Minister Zeng Yixin told reporters at a Beijing news conference.

Company officials reported Wednesday the vaccine has proven to be generally safe and has an efficacy rate of nearly 80%.

Health officials said they will exercise strict control over the vaccine’s roll-out and will closely monitor its safety and quality.

A total of 14 COVID-19 vaccines developed by China are under development, including several now in large-scale “Phase 3” clinical trials. Those include a separate candidate from Sinopharm in partnership with the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products as well as one from Beijing-based Sinovac.

Some of them have already been granted emergency use authorizations with millions of doses recently distributed to priority groups such as frontline medical workers and Chinese citizens going overseas to work.

“The safety and efficacy of the vaccines have been proven,” Zeng said.