China joins the Covid-19 vaccine club with Sinopharm approval


While much of the focus, when it comes to Covid-19 vaccine development, has been on the US and Europe, China now has an approved product of its own. But rather than Sinovac, state-backed Sinopharm was the first company to cross the finish line, having announced very limited phase III data on Wednesday and approval today. However, it was not immediately clear which one of Sinopharm’s two vaccines had won approval. The lack of detail around the vaccine’s clinical trials has also raised eyebrows, with observers having to take on trust Sinopharm’s claims of 79.3% efficacy in preventing Covid-19 infections. In trials in the UAE and Bahrain the vaccine, which is based on an inactivated version of Sars-Cov-2, had shown efficacy of 86%, creating further confusion around its effectiveness. As such a paper promised in the coming weeks with fuller data will be eagerly awaited. There was also no information on the pricing of the vaccine, but it is unlikely that Sinopharm has any plans to market its vaccine in western markets. The company has already signed large supply deals with countries in the Middle East, Brazil and Indonesia, indicating that it is firmly focusing on providing access to low- and middle-income countries.

Approved/authorised Covid-19 vaccines
Project Company Description Countries
BNT162b2 Biontech/Pfizer mRNA vaccine UK/USA
mRNA-1273 Moderna/NIAID mRNA vaccine USA
AZD1222 Astrazeneca/Uni of Oxford Chimp adenovirus vaccine UK
Sputnik V Gamaleya Research Institute Adenovirus  Russia, Argentina, Belarus
Unknown Sinopharm Inactivated Sars-Cov-2 vaccine China, UAE, Bahrain
Source: MHRA, FDA and company announcements.

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