Chinese firm readies mass vaccine production; Gilead drug raises hopes in pandemic fight

Published May 1, 2020, 12:01 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Agence France-Presse and Reuters

A researcher in a lab coat in Beijing holds up the hopes of humanity in his fingers: “Coronavac”, an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus that has upended the world.

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Sinovac Biotech, which is conducting one of the four clinical trials that have been authorized in China, has claimed great progress in its research and promising results among monkeys.

While human trials have just started, the company says it is ready to make 100 million doses per year to combat the virus, which surfaced in central China late last year before spreading across the globe and killing more than 220,000 people.

Thousands of shots of the vaccine, which is based on an inactivated pathogen, have already been produced and packaged in a white and orange case emblazoned with the name “Coronavac.”

While the drug has a long way to go before it is approved, the company must show that it can produce it on a large scale and submit batches to be controlled by the authorities.

The World Health Organization has warned that developing a vaccine could take 12 to 18 months, and Sinovac does not know when its half-milliliter injection will be ready for the market.

”It’s the question everyone is asking themselves,” Sinovac director of brand management Liu Peicheng told AFP.

Nasdaq-listed Sinovac has experience in mass-producing a drug against a global virus: It was the first pharmaceutical company to market a vaccine against H1N1, or swine flu, in 2009.

More than 100 labs around the world are scrambling to come up with a vaccine, but only seven — including Sinovac — are currently in clinical trials, according to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Sinovac has published results showing that its vaccine has ”largely protected” macaques from infection in an animal trial.

It’s findings have yet to be peer reviewed by the global scientific community.