RELIEF FOR SPORTS AND OTHER COMMUNITIES AS CHINA MOVES SWIFTLY INTO DEVELOPING COVID-19 VACCINES

Normalcy may be restored soon in sports and other general activities of human endeavours as China said it has given the go-ahead to two more vaccine makers to  the go-ahead to two more  vaccine makers to carry out early-stage human testing.

They are the Beijing subsidiary of Nasdaq-listed Sinovac Biotech and Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm together with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Last month, Chinese authorities approved clinical trial for a vaccine candidate by the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Sciences and biotech firm CanSino Bio, the only vaccine in the world that last week swiftly moved into the second phase of a human trial.

Unlike the military-backed project, which is an adenovirus vector vaccine, the two new candidates are inactivated vaccines which provide weaker immunity than live vaccines.

These are the first two inactivated vaccines to start trial globally.

“It should be said that the production process (for inactivated vaccines) is relatively mature, the quality standards are controllable, the scope of protection is also relatively wide,” said Ministry of Science and Technology official Wu Yuanbin at a news conference on Tuesday.

“These will provide some conditions for accelerating the use of vaccines.”

China has previously developed other inactivated vaccines for H1N1, hepatitis A, hand-foot-mouth disease and polio.

At least eight Chinese institutes and companies are said to be involved in the research and development of a vaccine for Covid-19.

Mr Wu said China uses five approaches in vaccine development: inactivated vaccines, genetic engineering sub-unit vaccines, adenovirus vector vaccines, nucleic acid vaccines and vaccines using attenuated influenza virus as vectors.

The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said on Jan 26 that the country had started developing vaccines after the virus was isolated and the seed strains screened.

“We must be aware that the development of a vaccine is a battle that China cannot afford to lose,” said a Global Times op-ed last month.

“Future competition between countries will be essentially a competition of technological strength.

“Only by mastering advanced technologies can a country be able to hold its development and national security in its own hands.

“From this aspect, it is not exaggerated to call vaccine R&D a life-and-death battle.”

Analysts say the Chinese military has a distinct advantage over the rest in the development of vaccines, given its access to samples and data, and the complete backing of the state.

-The Strait Times