Chinese health authorities have authorized a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm (OTCMKTS: SHTDY). The vaccine has an efficacy of 79% based on an interim analysis of a Phase 3 study.
China plans to distribute the BBIBP-CorV vaccine to citizens at no cost and distribute it to other countries that test Chinese vaccine candidates.
The country has already begun mass vaccination, granting emergency use of the vaccine to essential workers, students and diplomats.
Sinopharm chairman Liu Zingzhen stated on Nov. 20 that more than 66,000 Chinese recipients of the vaccine had traveled abroad without contracting COVID-19.
The 79% efficacy rate, however, was lower than the 86% efficacy researchers in the United Arab Emirates reported on Dec. 9 in Phase 3 interim analysis for the Sinopharm vaccine.
Sinopharm and its domestic competitor Sinovac employ inactivated coronaviruses in their vaccines. The downside to that approach is biosecurity, as it requires working with large amounts of coronavirus samples.
To create the vaccine, Beijing Institute scientists procured three COVID-19 strains from hospitalized patients, selecting a variant that grew in monkey kidney cells within a bioreactor. They then inactivated the virus with the chemical beta-propiolactone
While the approach has been commonly used for decades, other prominent vaccine developers such as Moderna (NSDQ:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and partner BioNTech have opted to use mRNA technology. In contrast, the Oxford-AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) vaccine uses a chimpanzee adenovirus-vector.