BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) — The safety, efficacy and accessibility of Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines have won recognition from many countries as inoculation programs are in full swing worldwide, a renowned Chinese scientist has said.
Building global immunity through vaccinations requires concerted efforts of all countries, and Chinese companies are fulfilling their obligations to push for equitable distribution of vaccines, said Yang Xiaoming, the chief scientist of the vaccine project under China’s national “863 Program,” in a recent interview with Xinhua.
As all groups of the world population are susceptible to the novel coronavirus, the pandemic can only be contained through collective efforts of immunization, preventive health measures and community-based health management by all countries, said Yang, also the chairman of Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group.
China has decided to provide 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative to meet the urgent needs of developing countries, a concrete step to deliver on the promise to make vaccines a global public good, he said.
More than 10 countries and regions, including Hungary, Seychelles, Pakistan and Morocco, have approved the emergency use of the Sinopharm inactivated vaccine, which was also officially registered in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and granted conditional marketing authorization in China, according to Sinopharm.
Currently, most of the exported Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines are destined for developing countries, which have little capacity to develop or produce them, yet are in greater need of the life-saving shots than others, he said, stressing that Chinese companies are doing their part to promote the fair allocation of vaccines.
Compared with developed countries, developing and underdeveloped countries have very limited procurement and payment capacity, as well as inadequate vaccine storage and transportation facilities.
To address that, low-cost Chinese-made vaccines can be produced in large quantities, stored and transported at 2-8 degrees Celsius, which is consistent with existing storage and transportation conditions of vaccines in many countries. Therefore, there is no need to rebuild the cold chain system and facilities, making the vaccines more accessible and better help curb the spread of the virus in the developing world, said Yang.
Yang said that many types of Chinese vaccines including inactivated ones are already the forerunners in global research and development (R&D) of vaccines.
This shows that over the past four decades since China’s reform and opening-up, the overall R&D capability of the Chinese vaccine industry as well as its processing equipment and supervision have improved significantly, he said, adding that in the past, Chinese vaccine developers could only follow others, but now they have caught up and even taken the lead.
“Now our R&D and production process of inactivated vaccines are completely different from what they were decades ago — there are improvements in production process and breakthroughs in technologies,” said Yang.
Adopting advanced cell culture and purification techniques, the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine has achieved high production efficiency, and its indicators of quality control have reached internationally advanced level, he said.
Chinese pharma companies are working around the clock to scale up production to ensure timely delivery of the vaccines to countries in urgent need. Sinopharm is expected to produce more than 1 billion doses this year, Yang said.
“A company can contribute to the equitable distribution of the vaccines worldwide by producing more high-quality vaccines faster while meeting safety standards,” Yang said.