Nearly a million people have been given “emergency” inoculations of two experimental coronavirus vaccines, a Chinese pharmaceutical company has confirmed.
Their effectiveness is unknown as Sinopharm has yet to provide any clinical data from trials of the vaccines.
Since the summer, China has been allowing inoculations with the vaccines – which have not yet been approved for wider use – in emergency cases, such as employees and students travelling abroad or workers vulnerable to exposure, such as healthcare workers.
“Our vaccines have been inoculated to nearly a million people and we have not had any returns reporting serious adverse reactions,” Sinopharm president Liu Jingzhen said on the company’s website.
According to the company, none of those inoculated with its vaccines have caught COVID-19, despite having travelled “to more than 150 countries” where the virus is active.
China, where the new coronavirus was first spotted in late 2019, currently has four vaccines in Phase 3 human trials, the last phase before they are approved and licensed for public use.
As there are reportedly very few infected patients in the country, with COVID-19 having largely been contained since the spring, trials of the vaccines are being conducted abroad.
Phase 3 clinical trials of Sinopharm, which has two vaccines that have reached this stage, are taking place in about ten countries around the world, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina, Peru, Egypt and Jordan.
The president of the state-owned pharmaceutical assured that the company is “at the forefront of the world” in the development of vaccines against coronavirus. However, he did not put forward any scientific data.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised that any vaccine produced by a company in his country would become a “global public good” that would be made available to developing countries.
Competition between global pharmaceutical companies has intensified in recent weeks.
The German-American duo Pfizer/BioNTech and the US biotech company Moderna have in recent days published data showing that their vaccines were 95 per cent and 94.5 per cent effective respectively.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that the EU could be close to giving the green light to the two pharmaceutical giants in December.
Earlier on Thursday, Pfizer’s chief executive Dr Albert Bourla said he would be applying for regulatory permission to distribute his company’s vaccine around the world “within days”.
It has already produced 20 million doses with a view to producing 50 million more doses by the end of the year.