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China: Covid-19 vaccine could be ready for the public by November

Biosafety expert says vaccine available to public 'around November, December'

BEIJING : A China-developed coronavirus vaccine could be ready for the public as early as November, a Chinese official has told state television, as the global race to clear the final round of trials heats up.

Chinese manufacturers have been bullish about development, with companies Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm even putting their vaccine candidates on display at a trade fair in Beijing this month.

Representatives of the companies said they hope their vaccines will be approved after phase three trials as early as year-end.

And on late Monday, the chief biosafety expert at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention told state broadcaster CCTV that a vaccine would be available to the general public "around November or December".

Professor Wu Guizhen did not specify which vaccine she was referring to but said "based on the phase three clinical results, the current progress is very smooth".

Prof Wu added that she had taken a vaccine in April and has felt good over the past few months, although she did not specify which one.

PAUSED

There are nine vaccine candidates in late-stage human trials, although some have hit recent obstacles - pharma giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University momentarily paused clinical trials last week after a volunteer developed an unexplained illness.

Some of China's vaccine candidates have already been offered to essential workers under an emergency-use programme.

A Sinovac spokesman said this month that "tens of thousands" of people had voluntarily taken its vaccine, including 90 per cent of its employees and their families - between 2,000 and 3,000 people.

In June, China's military approved a vaccine for use within its ranks developed by its research unit and a biotech firm.

Meanwhile, a group of scientists sent a letter to the Lancet on Monday outlining doubts about the accuracy of early data on Russia's Covid-19 vaccine, one of the authors said, adding further fuel to a dispute surrounding the Sputnik-V shot.

Fifteen scientists from five countries signed the letter presenting their concerns to the international medical journal, Professor Enrico Bucci, biologist adjunct professor at Philadelphia's Temple University, said. - AFP, REUTERS

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