Covid-19 Oct 21

China wants to supply the world with its coronavirus vaccine

Officials say production is being ramped up for new vaccine and they have had no reports of serious adverse reactions; China looks set to offer it to other countries for a very cheap rate; however Western nations have grave doubts about transparency and safety issues

China wants to supply the world with its coronavirus vaccine
A coronavirus vaccine from China National Biotech Group (CNBG) is seen at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services, in Beijing on September 5, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Tingshu Wang.

(ATF) China plans to rapidly ramp up its capacity to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus (Covid-19), state media CCTV has announced. It plans to dominate vaccine supply domestically and globally, despite the fact Western nations are unlikely to acquire a Chinese vaccine. It will be pushed to the rest of the world instead.

China's vaccine was developed in almost the same way as the "Oxford vaccine" in the UK, using virus enhancement techniques to create an inert but powerful antibody response, which if used with a second booster shot could offer several years of immunity, even against mutant strains, according to Chinese scientists.

Western experts have been very sceptical about the Chinese vaccine, due to transparency issues. But China appears confident it has hit the mark.

Preliminary remarks from the Chinese officials suggest they will sell doses at home for US$90 – and $4 abroad. So, it is clear they hope to turn this vaccine into something of an international "soft power" success – provided that it works.

The National Health Commission stated that China's vaccine production capacity could reach 610 million doses by the end of this year.

At present, in terms of production capacity of inactivated vaccines, the Commission and relevant departments have specially formulated guidelines for safe production. 

Some critics have claimed that the virus originally emerged from virus "enhancement trials" in Wuhan late last year, so it must be assumed that the country's biohazard safety rules have been overhauled.

Biosafety inspections, but doubts persist

Chinese health authorities claim they have conducted biosafety inspections at all the vaccine production workshops that have been built, and say these sites will be inspected by qualified personnel.

But China has still not agreed to inspections by international experts such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in the US.

The production capacity of other technical routes is also advancing simultaneously. As said, the production capacity of China’s vaccines will reach as much as 610 million doses by the end of this year. But the country's production capacity is likely to expand next year to ensure the country meets demand for its new vaccine.

Wu Guizhen, chief biosafety expert at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said there have been no serious adverse reaction reports about China’s new vaccine.

Wu said vaccines may cause adverse reactions, but they are divided into different degrees and levels – generally mild, moderate and severe. At present, there had only been some generally some mild adverse reactions to the new vaccine. These were within the normal range after vaccination, so he believed it was safe.

Covid 'can survive freezing conditions'

In related news, on Tuesday morning (Oct 20), the Information Office of the Qingdao Municipal Government in Shandong province held a press conference on epidemic prevention and control. Qingdao suffered an outbreak of unknown proportions – officials claim they tested over 9 million residents in a period of about a week, but found just a dozen with Covid-19. However, these figures are not regarded as realistically accurate or credible by many foreign observers.

Luan Xin, deputy mayor of Qingdao City, said that Qingdao’s epidemic prevention and control workers had found a sufficient chain of evidence, for the first time in the world, showing that the coronavirus can definitively be transmitted from person to person and can survive for a long time under freezing conditions.

But, as China has failed badly in transparency over the past year in issues related to Covid-19, critics in the West say they must stop hiding behind a veil of secrecy, otherwise global leaders will have no faith in their vaccine.

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