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China was ready to approve Western mRNA vaccines months ago. Why is he still holding on?

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In July, the shot was reported having passed an expert review by Chinese regulators and was in the review stage of the administration, according to Fosun Pharma, the Chinese partner of BioNTech licensed to produce and distribute the vaccine in the Greater China region. Fosun even planned to start being domestic essay production at the end of August.

However, five months later, there is still no word from Chinese officials on when, or if, the vaccine will ever be approved, although the new variant of Omicron poses a new challenge to the zero strategy. -Covid from China, and it’s less. effective domestic vaccines.

Much is still unknown about the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, which carries an unusually large number of mutations that scientists worry could make it more transmissible and less susceptible to existing vaccines.

Preliminary laboratory studies show that two doses of the BioNTech vaccine, which is produced by Pfizer outside of China, may not provide sufficient protection against Omicron infection, but three doses are able to neutralize it, Pfizer / BioNTech. he said in a press release last week. Two doses can still provide protection against serious illness, he added.
China has not released any studies on how well its national vaccines protect against Omicron, although experts and state media do. confidence expressed when braking the new variant.
More than 1.1 billion Chinese, or nearly 80 percent of the population, have been completely inoculated, most with inactivated vaccines developed by Sinopharm and Sinovac. But its effectiveness was found to be much lower than that of mRNA traits and studies suggest the immunity provided by Chinese vaccines decreases rapidly.

According to the World Health Organization, Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine was only 51% effective in preventing symptomatic disease against the original variant, while Sinopharm was 79%. In comparison, the efficacy of mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna reached 95%.

I a Hong Kong study published in The Lancet in June found that health workers fully vaccinated with the BioNTech mRNA vaccine had about 10 times the amount of antibodies than those who received the inactivated Sinovac vaccine.

The limited protection provided by Chinese vaccines is far from sufficient to meet China’s ambitious goal of keeping Covid infection at zero within its borders. In recent months, authorities have resorted to increasingly stringent measures to curb local outbreaks, often at great economic cost and disruption to daily life.

But infections have continued to rise. Last week, more than 130 cases were reported in the eastern province of Zhejiang, home to the country’s major manufacturing and export centers. And several local authorities in China have asked residents not to travel home during the Chinese Lunar New Year to reduce the spread of the virus.

To improve the decline of public immunity, Chinese authorities have begun to deploy booster vaccines, but re-use inactivated vaccines.

Some studies have found that mRNA vaccines can generate better immune responses as booster injections. A recent one British study, for example, found that Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines provide the largest increase in antibody levels when given 10 to 12 weeks after the second dose. Meanwhile, two separate Israeli studies published last week showed that booster doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine were being reduced. infections ten times and Covid 90% dead.
It is not that Chinese officials are unaware of the benefit of using mRNA vaccines. Last month, Zeng Guang, a former chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, recognized that “real-world data showed that the use of mRNA vaccines or recombinant protein vaccines as a booster dose for inactivated vaccines will achieve better results,” citing data from countries such as Turkey, Thailand and Lebanon.

But even so, Zeng insisted that using the same technology to provide reinforcing features would be safer and more accepted by the public.

So why is the Chinese government reluctant to approve Western mRNA vaccines?

Yanzhong Huang, a senior global health member of the Foreign Affairs Council, said politics seems to be the main consideration at stake.

China has promised millions of coronavirus vaccines to countries around the world.  And he is ready to deliver them
China had been a leader in the world vaccine race for much of the past year, developing multiple Covid vaccinations using the old approach of using an inactivated whole virus to cause the body to develop immunity.
He has it too sent billions of doses abroad – a campaign that provided vital access to vaccines to developing countries, while at the same time helping Beijing to promote soft power and project international influence.

“When China developed its own vaccines, it used them to show China’s technological progress. And now if you switch to a vaccine made abroad, it’s like admitting that you’re not as good as other countries in terms of technological capabilities, “Huang said.

The Chinese government may also be interested in protecting the interests of its domestic vaccine industry, according to Huang. “I’m sure they (the existing vaccine manufacturers) would be very resilient to bring outsiders into this huge market,” he said.

While Chinese regulators suspended approval of the BioNTech vaccine, domestic companies were given the green light to advance the development of their own mRNA vaccines.

Last month, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China approved trials for a nationally developed mRNA vaccine as a booster vaccine, for adults who have been completely inoculated with inactivated vaccines. He has already conducted clinical trials in countries such as Mexico and Indonesia, although the results have not yet been announced.
The vaccine, ARCoVax, was developed jointly by Walvax Biotechnology, Suzhou Abogen Biosciences and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, a Chinese military research institute. Its production base in southwestern Yunnan Province has the capacity to produce 200 million doses annually, according to state media reports, which promoted China’s success in “capturing the core technology of the mRNA vaccine.”

Several other Chinese companies, including state giant Sinopharm, are also developing mRNA vaccines, Huang said. Beijing will likely want to approve its own-produced mRNA vaccines before giving the green light to foreign women, he added.

But there are indications that Chinese experts expect more cooperation with their Western counterparts.

Over the weekend, Zhong Nanshan, a leading Chinese respiratory disease expert and government adviser, urged China to increase exchanges and cooperation in vaccine development with other countries.

“We have to learn about the good things in other countries, such as mRNA (vaccines),” Zhong said he said in a forum Saturday in the southern city of Guangzhou.

“They have spent years in research and have managed to develop the world’s first mRNA (vaccine) in just a few months … We need to learn from their technology in this area,” he said.

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