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2020-12-30 07:43:48

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm is said to have a 79.34% effectiveness in preventing the disease, according to an announcement Wednesday.

The Beijing Biological Products Institute, a subsidiary of Sinopharm, said the vaccine that is still undergoing human trials presented “good security,” and the company has applied for licensing to the country’s National Medical Products Administration. However, detailed data has not been released.

Sinopharm has been conducting large-scale human trials in countries that include the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Peru. In early December, UAE authorities said the vaccine, dubbed BBIBP-CorV, is 86% effective and officially approved it for use in the country.

Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum receives Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine in Dubai, Nov. 3, 2020. AFP via People Visual

Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum receives Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine in Dubai, Nov. 3, 2020. AFP via People Visual

The Sinopharm vaccine has been available for emergency use in China since July, together with another COVID-19 vaccine made by Beijing-based Sinovac.

Last week, authorities in Turkey said the Sinovac vaccine was found to be 91.25% effective in preventing COVID-19, referring to a preliminary analysis based on a small pool of participants from a larger trial in the country.

Both vaccines from Sinopharm and Sinovac are inactive, meaning they contain a “dead” strain of the virus that elicits an immune response. The technology is relatively conventional compared with the gene-based alternative used by two international COVID-19 vaccines: one by Germany’s BioNTech, another by U.S.-based Moderna.

The BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, both announced with an efficacy of above 90%, contain only some of the virus’ genetic material, which helps speed up the manufacturing process. However, gene-based vaccines are more fragile and tend to require special facilities for storage. For example, the BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius.

Vaccines from both Sinopharm and Sinovac, meanwhile, can be stored at a normal refrigerator temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius, making them much easier to store and distribute. But despite a strong drive to make vaccines widely accessible, both companies have yet to conclude their large-scale trials around the world.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A person shows Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine in Beijing, Sept. 6, 2020. People Visual)