China approves two more domestic COVID-19 vaccines, increasing number to four

The new approvals meant China had four locally developed approved vaccines for COVID-19

  
Vials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, a recombinant adenovirus vaccine named Ad5-nCoV, co-developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics Inc and a team led by Chinese military infectious disease expert, are pictured in Wuhan, Hubei province, China March 24, 2020. Picture taken March 24, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS

Vials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, a recombinant adenovirus vaccine named Ad5-nCoV, co-developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics Inc and a team led by Chinese military infectious disease expert, are pictured in Wuhan, Hubei province, China March 24, 2020. Picture taken March 24, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS

BEIJING - China's National Medical Products Administration said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, increasing the number of domestic vaccines approved in China to four.

The two newly approved vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm).

They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year. 

So far, China has not approved COVID-19 vaccines developed by Western drug makers.

Sinopharm's Wuhan unit said on Wednesday its vaccine had an efficacy rate of 72.51% against the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus, citing interim analysis of late-stage clinical trial data, without offering more details.

It is one of two candidates from Sinopharm that have entered Phase III clinical trials overseas, and was earlier given to a limited group of people at higher infection risk.

The four approved Chinese vaccines can be stored at normal freezer temperatures, making them a potentially attractive option for developing countries which might have difficulty deploying vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that require much colder temperatures for longer-term storage.

China has been exporting the Sinovac and earlier Sinopharm vaccines to countries around the world.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu in Beijing and Meg Shen in Hong Kong Writing by Colin Qian Editing by Peter Graff) ((Reuters Messaging: colin.qian@thomsonreuters.com))

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