China’s Sinopharm says vaccine 79pc effective

BEIJING (AFP) – Phase 3 trials of a Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine found it was 79 per cent effective, the Chinese pharma giant said yesterday, lower than rival jabs developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna but a potential breakthrough in the battle to stem the pandemic in Asia.

China, where the pandemic first emerged, has been racing against the West to develop its own COVID-19 vaccines, with five already in large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials but none officially approved yet.

Yesterday’s announcement was the first data released on the efficacy of a Chinese vaccine candidate.

“The protective effect of the (Sinopharm CNBG Beijing) vaccine against COVID-19 is 79.34 per cent,” said the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a Sinopharm subsidiary that has been developing a vaccine with CNBG. Sinopharm has applied to China’s drug regulator for approval of the inactivated coronavirus vaccine, the statement said, a type of inoculation using particles of the pathogen.

But China has struggled to gain international trust for its vaccine candidates, hindered by a lack of transparency on test results.

It has also been slow to complete Phase 3 trials, which had to be conducted abroad due to China’s success at curbing the spread of COVID-19 within its own borders.

A promoter talks about the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG during a trade fair in Beijing. PHOTO: AP