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2020-08-24 09:58:48

China has authorized the “emergency use” of a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, a top health official said Saturday.

Zheng Zhongwei, the National Health Commission official leading China’s coronavirus vaccine task force, said in an interview Saturday with state broadcaster CCTV that the commission began applying for emergency use approval on April 4.

China’s Cabinet, the State Council, then approved an action plan on June 24, and the vaccine was officially implemented for emergency use beginning July 22, he added.

Though the media report did not elaborate on which vaccine Zheng was referring to, China currently has two vaccine candidates undergoing late-stage human trials. Sinopharm, a state-affiliated pharmaceutical company, launched large-scale human trials in the United Arab Emirates in June.

The same month, Sinovac, another Chinese vaccine maker, announced their own clinical trial program in Brazil. Both companies have gone overseas for clinical trials amid dwindling COVID-19 cases in China.

The purpose of introducing the vaccine on an emergency basis is to “build immune barriers” among medical workers and key staff to ensure that cities continue to function normally, Zheng said. He added that the scope of emergency use might be expanded in order to prevent a potential rebound in autumn or winter.

Last week, Sinopharm projected that China’s first vaccine against the novel coronavirus would be available to the public in December at a cost of up to 1,000 yuan ($145). In Saturday’s news segment, Zheng suggested that the price of such a vaccine would likely be lower than initially estimated.

Contributions: Ye Ruolin; editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: E+/People Visual)