China’s Sinopharm says COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by year-end

The company logo of Sinopharm Group Co Ltd is displayed at a news conference on the company's annual results in Hong Kong
The company logo of Sinopharm Group Co Ltd is displayed at a news conference on the company's annual results in Hong KongReuters

A coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) could be ready for public use by the end of this year, state media reported on Wednesday, ahead of a previous expectation it may become available in 2021.

Sinopharm Chairman Liu Jingzhen told state broadcaster CCTV the company expects to finish late-stage human testing within about three months.

Sinopharm’s unit China National Biotec Group (CNBG), which is responsible for two coronavirus vaccine projects, said in June the shot may not be ready until at least 2021 as a lack of new infections in China made it difficult to find people to test it on.

Advertisement

But China has since found alternative trial sites abroad, overcoming some of the obstacles it faces in the global race to produce a vaccine to fight a pandemic that has killed over 600,000 people globally.

Sinopharm’s experimental shot has entered a Phase III trial involving around 15,000 participants and two vaccine strains in the United Arab Emirates.

Another potential vaccine, developed by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech using a similar technology, has also been given to participants in a Phase III trial in Brazil.

A vaccine candidate developed by CanSino Biologics Inc and China’s military research unit, which appears to be safe and induced immune responses in most subjects in a closely-watched mid-stage study, is also looking for opportunities to run a Phase III trial outside China.