China vaccine maker Sinovac says doubles production capacity for Covid-19 doses

Sinovac estimated that more than 100 million doses have been administered worldwide.
Sinovac estimated that more than 100 million doses have been administered worldwide.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP, REUTERS) - Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac said on Friday (April 2) that a third production line for its Covid-19 vaccine has been put into use, doubling its annual capacity of the jabs to two billion doses.

A Sinovac spokesman said the third facility, in Beijing, had started cultivating cells where the coronavirus would be grown, a procedure that could take a relatively long time.

Sinovac did not say when it will actually produce 2 billion doses of the vaccine.

Its CoronaVac vaccine is one of four domestic vaccines given conditional approval by Chinese authorities, which helps rush emergency drugs to market.

On Wednesday, experts from the World Health Organisation said an interim analysis of clinical trial data from two Chinese vaccines, including Sinovac's product, showed they demonstrated safety and good efficacy, although more data is still needed.

"Over 200 million doses of CoronaVac have been delivered to over 20 countries, including China," said Sinovac in its latest statement.

The amount was an increase from the 160 million doses announced on March 22. Sinovac estimated that more than 100 million doses have been administered worldwide.

Although Sinovac's jab has been approved by domestic regulators, it has yet to receive authorisation by what the WHO considers "a stringent regulatory authority", noted the United Nations health agency's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation.

Sinovac is among Chinese firms to have submitted data in applications for the WHO's emergency use listing, which opens the door for the jabs to join the global Covax sharing programme, which aims to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccinations.