A pharmaceutical company in China said today that the vaccine against the new coronavirus that it is developing should be ready in early 2021 for distribution worldwide, including in Europe and the United States.
Yin Weidong, the CEO of SinoVac, said he personally received the experimental vaccine.
“In the beginning, our strategy was designed for China and Wuhan, but in June and July, we adjusted to cover the whole world,” he revealed.
“Our goal now is to supply the vaccine to everyone, including the United States, the European Union and others,” said Yin.
Strict regulations in the US, the European Union, Japan and Australia have historically blocked the sale of Chinese vaccines, but Yin said that could change.
SinoVac is developing one of four vaccine candidates in China, along with state-owned SinoPharm, which has two others under development, and the private company affiliated with the Chinese army CanSino.
More than 24,000 people are participating in clinical trials conducted by CoronaVac in Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia, said Yin.
SinoVac chose these countries because they all had severe outbreaks, are populous, and have limited research and development capacity, he said.
Yin spoke to the press during a visit to a SinoVac factory in southern Beijing.
Built in a few months, the plant was designed to allow SinoVac to produce half a million doses of the vaccine per year.
The facility was already operating today, with employees filling tiny vials with the vaccine and packing them. The company projects that it will be able to produce hundreds of millions of doses by February or March next year.
SinoVac is also starting to test small doses of CoronaVac in children and the elderly in China.
Although the vaccine has not yet passed phase 3 clinical trials, a globally accepted standard, SinoVac has already injected thousands of people in China.
Yin said he was one of the first to receive the experimental vaccine several months ago, along with researchers, after phases one and two of the human tests did not cause serious adverse effects.
“This is a kind of tradition at our company,” said Yin, adding that he did the same with a developing hepatitis vaccine.
Earlier this year, China allowed “emergency use” of vaccine candidates for populations at risk, such as border officials and doctors, if companies showed “safety and good antibodies” in tests with about 1,000 people, said Yin.
SinoVac received approval last June, along with SinoPharm and CanSino, and was able to supply tens of thousands of doses of CoronaVac to the Beijing municipal government, said Yin.
SinoVac employees were qualified for emergency use of the vaccine because an outbreak within the company would impair their ability to develop the vaccine, said Yin.
About 90% of the company’s employees have already been vaccinated, he said.