China, not India or even US, may first launch coronavirus vaccine

Despite India’s claim to roll out the first vaccine for coronavirus by August 15, China may in fact launch the much-awaited shot, if the current speed of the process across the world is any indication.

According to the official records by the World Health Organisation, 19 vaccines are under human trials while hundreds of others are in pre-clinical stages. Out of these, three vaccines have entered the final Phase 111 stage and two of them are from China. Interestingly, China is behind eight of these 19 vaccines under trials.

China’s Sinovac Biotech is starting Phase III trials of its vaccine in Brazil, becoming the third company to move into the final stage. The trials will be done in partnership with Brazilian vaccine producer the Instituto Butantan, involving nearly 9,000 healthcare professionals this month.

AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine, developed by researchers at the University of Oxford, and China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) are the only other candidates in late-stage Phase III trials. Moderna also plans to start its late-stage trial this month.

The Oxford vaccine is currently in Phase III human trials with around 8,000 participants. The Phase-I trail that began in April has already been completed and the data will be released shortly.

Chinese Speed: Though many countries are in the hot race to launch the vaccine, Chinese have developed its own modern to fast-track the process. The governent, private and the military sectors have joined to together in the process. The government set up two vaccine plants and the military have allowed experimental shots to be used on staff.

Another edge for China is its tried and tested inactivated vaccine technology which was used to make vaccines against diseases such as influenza and measles. This has increased the success rate. On the other hand, other countries are basing their trials on new technology called messenger RNA, which is yet to have a vaccine approved.

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