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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.

Go deeper: China's high-stakes vaccine moment

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

The global line for coronavirus vaccines stretches back to 2023

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There’s a wild scramble at the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccines, with the EU discussing export bans and legal action to ensure its supply speeds up in the coming months.

The flipside: The back of the line likely stretches to 2023 and beyond. Almost no low-income countries have managed to begin distribution in earnest, and total vaccinations in all of continental sub-Saharan Africa currently number in the dozens.

How Tampa Bay is managing unused COVID vaccines

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

With so much anxiety surrounding how hard it is to get the coronavirus vaccine, a question has been lingering in many of our minds: What happens when people don't show up for their shots?

The big picture: A relatively small amount — 3,444 doses, or 0.1% of the 3 million vaccines the state has received — has been wasted.