China has administered experimental coronavirus vaccines to hundreds of thousands since July under an emergency use program approved by the Chinese government, before their safety and effectiveness were fully realized. proven by clinical trials.
Some experts and vaccine developers in the West have warned of prematurely authorizing coronavirus vaccines before the end of last-stage trials.
Zheng Zhongwei, an official with the Chinese National Health Commission, said on Friday that the Chinese cabinet, the State Council, had approved a trial plan for the emergency use of Covid-19 vaccines at the end of the month of June.
“After the approval, we communicated and informed the relevant representatives of the WHO office in China and obtained the understanding and support of the WHO,” he said at a press conference.
Last month, Zheng revealed in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV that China has been using experimental coronavirus vaccines on people in “high risk” occupations since July 22.
Workers at high risk of exposure to the virus – including frontline medical staff, epidemic prevention staff, medical staff at fever clinics, and customs and border staff – were eligible to receive the vaccine, he said during the interview.
The vaccines, which did not complete Phase 3 trials, were developed by state-owned China National Biotec Group Corporation, known as Sinopharm.
In a statement posted to Sinopharm’s website this month, the company said its two vaccine candidates had been administered “hundreds of thousands of times” under the government-approved emergency use program. .
The vaccines have been used on medical professionals, diplomats deployed to high-risk countries and employees of state-owned enterprises working overseas as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to the general counsel of the company, Zhou Song.
“There hasn’t been a single case that has shown significant negative effects, and no one has been infected,” Zhou said in the statement.
Phase 3 trials for Sinopharm’s vaccines are underway in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Peru, Morocco and Argentina.
Last week, the UAE approved the emergency use of a Sinopharm vaccine for frontline workers, according to the country’s health ministry.
A vaccine candidate in Phase 3 trials developed by Sinovac Biotech, another Chinese pharmaceutical company, is also included in China’s emergency use program, according to Reuters.
The program comes after the Chinese government approved the use of a different vaccine candidate for the country’s military in June.