2020-07-15 09:13:38

China’s National Medical Products Administration on Tuesday accepted the human trial application for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by a Shanghai pharmaceutical company using a promising new technology.

The candidate, dubbed BNT162b1, is a messenger RNA vaccine from domestic firm Fosun Pharma and its German partner BioNTech. It’s among the first nucleic acid-based vaccines — a relatively novel biomedical technology pioneered over the last two decades — devised to target the COVID-19 virus.

Experts see mRNA-based vaccines as potential game-changers because of their capacity to overcome current manufacturing challenges, such as slow production times, faced by manufacturers of conventional vaccines.

For traditional vaccines, scientists have to go through a laborious and costly process of growing, purifying, and replicating a harmless part of the virus in the lab before they can be administered. But for mRNA-based vaccines, these steps can happen within the human body, after inoculation.

Although the technology has previously been tested with Ebola vaccines, for example, no candidate has been approved for commercial use anywhere in the world.

Before BNT162b1, an mRNA vaccine candidate developed by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences began early-stage human trials in late June. Meanwhile, the U.S. biotech company Moderna is another step ahead still, having completed its first-stage trials in May.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: View Stock/People Visual)