Though the COVID-19 situation in China has been largely eased, Chinese pharmaceutical companies have been actively participating in the development of vaccines, with some already completing early trials and anticipating market entry by the end of the year, ahead of schedule.
Liu Jingzhen, chairman of China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm), said in a recent media interview that the results of phase I and II clinical trials were very positive and without serious side effects.
“SinoPharm was approved at the end of June to begin international phase III clinical trials and [the vaccine] could be on the market by the end of the year,” Liu said, adding that phase III trials should be completed in about three months and are in the final stages of approval.
This came after a World Health Organization expert said on Wednesday that researchers are making good progress in developing vaccines against COVID-19, with a handful in late-stage trials, but their first use cannot be expected until early 2021.
SinoPharm’s novel coronavirus vaccine entered domestic phase I and II clinical trials on April 12; its effect is considered ideal, and no one experienced a serious side effect, according to Liu, who noted that he himself had received an injection to test the vaccine on March 30.
The vaccine was jointly developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products and the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products under SinoPharm.
The two institutes simultaneously built P3-level production facilities which can ensure the large-scale production of vaccine in the next stage, Liu said.
“So far, it’s going well. It is leading the world in research and development, clinical trials, manufacturing facilities, and vaccine efficacy, safety, and accessibility,” said Liu in the interview.
In the first half of 2020, novel coronavirus vaccines were under research and development by at least six groups in China, including a leading group for scientific research headed by Yang Xiaoming of SinoPharm and a team led by Chen Wei from the Institute of Biotechnology under the Academy of Military Medical Sciences.
In the US, three vaccines were under research and development in the first half, including those from Moderna and Pfizer.
Other COVID-19 vaccines are also in development – including one at the University of Oxford in the UK – and have also entered clinical trials.