China has given conditional approval for general public use for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by state-owned drug maker Sinopharm.

Booth displaying coronavirus vaccine candidate from CNBG in Beijing

Booth displaying coronavirus vaccine candidate from CNBG in Beijing/ (Photo: Reuters)

BEIJING: China has given conditional approval for general public use for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by state-owned drug maker Sinopharm, an official with China’s National Medical Products Administration told a media briefing on Thursday (Dec 31).

The approval of the vaccine developed by Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG) affiliate is the first for general public use among a handful of Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidates in various stages of trials.

China could grant conditional approval for vaccines that are yet to complete clinical trials if the vaccine is deemed urgently needed to cope with major public health emergencies and its benefits outweigh the risks, Chen Shifei, an official with National Medical Products Administration, told the briefing.

READ: China Sinopharm’s vaccine has 79% protection rate against COVID-19

No detailed efficacy data of the vaccine has been publicly released, but a Beijing unit of CNBG said on Wednesday that its vaccine is 79.34 per cent effective in preventing people from the disease based on interim data.

The approval comes after the United Arab Emirates became the first country earlier this month to roll out the Sinopharm vaccine to the public.

READ: Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are poised to fill gap, but will they work?

While China has been slower than several other countries in approving COVID-19 vaccines, it has been inoculating its citizens for months with three different shots still undergoing late-stage trials.

China launched an emergency use programme in July aimed at essential workers and others at high risk of infection and as of the end of November had administered 1.5 million doses using at least three different products – two developed by CNBG and one by Sinovac.

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