Wednesday, December 30, 2020

NYT on Chinese COVID vaccines - UPDATE

Via the New York Times, this interesting news: 

Hospitals all over China have almost everything necessary for a mass vaccination drive: Millions of doses. Refrigerators to store them. Health care workers trained to administer them.

Everything, that is, except proof that any of their vaccines work.

Unlike their Western competitors, the Chinese companies have not disclosed data from late-stage clinical trials that would show whether their vaccines are effective, and regulators in China have not officially approved them.

That has not deterred local governments across the country, which have begun an ambitious vaccination campaign. The goal is to inoculate 50 million people — roughly the population of Colombia — by the middle of February, before the Lunar New Year holiday, when hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel.

I am very interested to see how well the Chinese vaccines work, and how their regulatory systems perform. You could tell an interesting story of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, being appropriately documented, as being sufficiently effective to be deployed across the developing world. It would, in the right scenario, herald the Chinese pharma industry as being able to produce world-class vaccines, and their regulatory systems as being as rigorous as Western countries. I think it's still too early to tell, but the choice to be relatively mum on the performance of the Sinopharm vaccines doesn't bode well...  

UPDATE: This post was overtaken by events. Via the New York Times this morning: 

A Chinese pharmaceutical company said on Wednesday that an early analysis of clinical trial results showed that one of its coronavirus vaccines was effective, an announcement that sent a positive signal for the global rollout of Chinese vaccines but lacked crucial details.

The company, a state-controlled firm called Sinopharm, said that a vaccine candidate made by its Beijing Institute of Biological Products arm had an efficacy rate of 79 percent based on an interim analysis of Phase 3 trials. Sinopharm said it had filed an application with Chinese regulators to allow the vaccine to be used broadly.

It will be interesting to see how this will all play out. 

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