China has added to its arsenal by approving a new COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, created by the head of the country’s Center for Disease Control.
According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microbiology, Gao Fu, the head of China’s CDC, led the production of a protein subunit vaccine that was approved by regulators last week for emergency use.
It’s the fourth time such a vaccine has been approved for emergency use. For general usage, China has authorized four vaccines produced by three Chinese firms.
Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences partnered on the vaccine. According to the statement, the team completed phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials in October of last year and is currently performing the final phase of trials in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
On March 1, the vaccine was approved for use in Uzbekistan.
In that it teaches the body to identify the spike protein that covers the surface of the coronavirus vaccine, the protein subunit vaccine is similar to many other vaccines that have been accepted internationally, but the difference is in how it tells the body to recognize the protein. Scientists cultivate a non-toxic version of the protein in cells, purify it, and then assemble it into a vaccine, which is then injected.
Clinical research evidence demonstrating effectiveness or safety are not widely available in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The details could not be shared at this time, according to a company spokesperson, but the company was actively providing the information to health authorities.
Despite having four vaccines approved for general use, China has been slow to vaccinate its 1.4 billion citizens. According to government officials at a press conference in Beijing on Monday, 64.98 million doses of vaccines have been administered.
So far, China has vaccinated what it considers to be key communities, such as health-care personnel, border guards, and customs officers, as well as particular industries chosen by the government. The elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are a second category that has been noticeably missing in contrast to many other nations.
The vaccinations were historically restricted to adults 18-59 years old due to a lack of clinical trial evidence for those above that age, but the government appears to be signalling that the restrictions are being lifted. “We will conduct mass vaccination of related populations as soon as possible,” Li Bin, a vice chair of the National Health Commission, said on Monday.
Over the weekend, China’s official Xinhua News Agency announced that local health centers in Beijing began offering the vaccines to those aged 60 and up in some neighborhoods.