SinoVac, a Chinese biotech firm is getting closer to finding the right vaccine for COVID-19, and Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to make the COVID-19 vaccine produced in China a “global public good”.
What We Know:
- COVID-19 has been rapidly spreading all over the world, resulting in millions of cases and over 600,000 deaths. Scientists have been working rapidly as well to create a vaccine for it. According to Yin Weidong, the CEO of Chinese biotech firm SinoVac, they are getting closer to finding a successful vaccine.
- SinoVac is testing out its COVID-19 vaccine, CoronaVac, in phases. Phase 1 consists of a small group of patients being monitored for negative side effects. Phase 2 consists of testing for both safety and efficacy. And just last week, they started phase 3, which is similar to phase 2 but it involves more participants in which they had 9,000 volunteers in Brazil. Yin says that with the data collected, he believes they have “more than an 80% chance of success”.
- Surprisingly, SinoVac didn’t start from scratch with this vaccine research. Their research had started when the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak happened. SinoVac was the only firm to get started on a vaccine for the outbreak, which claimed over 774 lives. But then it disappeared, putting a halt on the research. It didn’t go to waste because 17 years later, COVID-19 came and SinoVac was able to continue the earlier work because, according to Yin, COVID-19 and SARS are “like brothers”.
- SinoVac plans on sharing their vaccine with the world, which can take years because there are 7.6 billion people in the world and each person will likely require at least two doses. “If only one or two countries get protected this won’t solve the problem and get economic activity back to normal,” Yin said. But SinoVac can’t go distributing the vaccine without getting it approved independently by every nation’s FDA.
- While China’s plans to distribute its vaccines are meant to be a “global public good,” there’s a good chance that China will gain global clout producing the world’s first working vaccines. “If China Produces the first coronavirus vaccine at scale, it would be an extraordinary diplomatic tool anywhere in the world,” stated Benjamin N. Gedan, a former regional director on the White House’s National Security Council said.
The U.S. biotech firm Moderna is also working on a vaccine with the National Institutes of Health and they are doing trials to test it among 45 healthy volunteers who are between the ages of 18 to 55 years. They are now in phase 3 which involves 30,000 volunteers and there are no serious side effects.