Covid-19: China okays human tests for two experimental vaccines

SUIFENHE • China has approved early-stage human tests for two experimental vaccines to combat the coronavirus as it battles to contain imported cases, especially from neighbouring Russia, its new "front line" in the war on Covid-19.

Russia has become China's largest source of imported cases, with a total of 409 infections originating in the country, and Chinese citizens should stay put and not return home, the state-owned Global Times said in an editorial.

"Russia is the latest example of a failure to control imported cases and can serve as a warning to others," said the paper, which is run by the Communist Party's People's Daily.

China's north-eastern border province of Heilongjiang saw 79 new imported coronavirus cases on Monday. All the new cases were Chinese citizens travelling back into the country from Russia, state media said yesterday. They formed the bulk of new cases on the Chinese mainland, which stood at 89.

Heilongjiang's provincial authority said yesterday that it had established a hotline to reward citizens for reporting illegal immigrants crossing into the province.

According to a notice, people supplying verified information about illegal cross-border crimes will be granted 3,000 yuan (S$600).

As of yesterday, China had reported 82,249 coronavirus cases and 3,341 deaths. There were no deaths in the past 24 hours.

As China fights to prevent a second wave of Covid-19, two experimental vaccines will be trialled on humans, state media Xinhua reported yesterday.

The experimental vaccines are being developed by a Beijing-based unit of Nasdaq-listed Sinovac Biotech, and by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group.

Last month, China gave the green light for another clinical trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by China's military-backed Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Bio, shortly after US drug developer Moderna said it had begun human tests for its vaccine with the US National Institutes of Health.

At a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, China's coronavirus task force decided to deploy more health resources along its borders.

It said it would build hospitals and establish isolation points in border regions, and would also strengthen cooperation with neighbouring countries.

However, officials on Monday acknowledged that China's long border and its large number of country roads, paths, ferry crossings and mountain passes made it very difficult to control.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2020, with the headline 'Covid-19: China okays human tests for two experimental vaccines'. Print Edition | Subscribe