Dec 31, 2020 - Health

China approves state-owned Sinopharm vaccine

Sinopharm.
Sinopharm vaccine. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Health regulators in China said Thursday they have approved the country's first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, for general use, AP reports.

Why it matters: Like the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, Sinopharm's shot is said to be cheaper and easier to store than Pfizer or Moderna's vaccines.

  • China, which has suffered global damage to its reputation after its handling of the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, is eager to distribute the vaccine to poorer countries that have been unable to secure Pfizer or Moderna doses.
  • The UAE, Bahrain, Pakistan and Morocco are among those slated to receive Sinopharm doses, while Turkey, Indonesia and Brazil have purchased a vaccine developed by another Chinese company called Sinovac Biotech, per AP.

The state of play: Sinopharm's approval comes just after China started a program to vaccinate 50 million people before the Lunar New Year in February. 4.5 million doses of the shot have already been administered.

Details: Sinopharm announced Wednesday that preliminary data have shown the vaccine to be 79.3% effective, though experts have said important data is missing. The shot is under conditional approval by China, and the publication of more data will determine the proof of its effectiveness.

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