China stepping up vaccine output to increase foreign supply: Official

BEIJING • China has provided more than 350 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccines overseas and is stepping up domestic production to increase foreign supply, especially to developing countries, a senior health official said.

"The No. 1 priority for the global fight against Covid-19 is to expand and accelerate mass vaccination, which rests on boosting vaccine production and promoting equitable access," said Dr Zeng Yixin, deputy head of China's National Health Commission.

"The country is now scaling up production to ensure smooth progress of its inoculation campaigns, while also exhausting all means to offer assistance to the international community, particularly those in the developing world," he said. About 763 million doses had been administered in China by last Saturday, according to the commission.

"It is clear from data that China has been striving to balance domestic vaccine roll-outs and global supplies," Dr Zeng said, adding that the stable situation in China has created favourable conditions for the country to achieve the balance.

China's Covid-19 vaccines are gaining increasing recognition around the globe, according to Dr Zeng. Two domestic vaccines, developed separately by Sinopharm's Beijing Institute of Biological Products and Sinovac, recently gained emergency-use approval by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which attested to their safety and efficacy, Dr Zeng said.

The approval allows the two vaccines to be included in Covax, a global vaccine-sharing platform.

Data from real-world use of Chinese vaccines has added to growing evidence of their effectiveness in reducing infections and death rates, he said.

In a town in Brazil with a population of 46,000, about 90 per cent of residents aged 18 and above were inoculated with doses donated by Sinovac Biotech.

Compared with neighbouring towns that had enforced the same disease control measures, but had not inoculated a large proportion of the population, the town that vaccinated its people reported a 95 per cent reduction in mortality rates and an 80 per cent drop in symptomatic infections.

"The case in Brazil has showcased strong protection from Sinovac vaccines and has injected confidence into the global fight against the virus," Dr Zeng said.

He also said it is worthwhile for the WHO to consider adjusting requirements on submitting data on third-and late-stage clinical trials when reviewing vaccines for emergency use.

Dr Zeng said the proposal, if implemented, has the potential to sharply increase global vaccine supplies, reduce costs and speed up the global vaccination process.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2021, with the headline 'China stepping up vaccine output to increase foreign supply: Official'. Subscribe