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Asia Minute: Chinese Coronavirus Vaccines in Development

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
Samples of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG are displayed near a 3D model of a coronavirus during a trade fair in Beijing on Sept. 6, 2020.

Two versions of the COVID-19 vaccine have been approved for emergency use in the United States. One made by Pfizer and the other by Moderna. But there are other vaccines in production and in trials — including some from China.

China is already taking orders for millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines, and moving ahead with clinical trials and wider testing — but with some uneven progress.

Late last week, the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech delayed announcing full results from its late stage trials of a vaccine called “CoronaVac.” It’s been tested in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey, and the company said it needs another couple of weeks to analyze the data.

While the CoronaVac vaccines are still some time away from approval, several governments have already placed orders for them — including the three countries involved in the trials, as well as Singapore, Hong Kong and Chile.

Sinopharm is a state-owned Chinese company also at work on vaccines.

The South China Morning Post reports nearly a million people in China have already been given vaccines from the company under an emergency program. It has two vaccines in development — undergoing tests in ten countries in South America and the Middle East.

Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates approved one of them for use — after the government there said trials found it 86% effective.

Sinopharm still has not published full results of its phase three trials, and preliminary results from other Chinese vaccines have up to now shown much lower rates of success.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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