A Chinese Covid-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of the year, a government body has announced as nations race to be the first to come up with a defense against the virus that has infected nearly 6 million people and wrecked the world economy.
A vaccine developed by two state-affiliated companies working in tandem has the potential to be ready by the tail end of 2020 or by early 2021, according to a social media post made Friday from the Chinese state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).
The two firms, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, have embarked on Phase II testing for the vaccines and administered doses to more than 2,000 people during trials, according to Reuters.
According to the SASAC, the Beijing Institute of Biological Products production line will be able to manufacture between 100 million and 120 million vaccine doses per year at full capacity.
There are five Chinese-developed immunizations being tested on humans, more than any other country in the world.
China, where the Covid-19 virus is believed to have originated, has its health organizations, regulators, research groups and even smaller private companies teaming up and working overtime in a bid to come up with the world’s first effective Covid-19 vaccine.
While Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to share any successful vaccine with other nations, vaccine manufacturing in China has been marred by production quality issues and safety scandals in the past, according to Bloomberg.
The Chinese expectation of a vaccine by the end of 2020 is aggressive compared to previous estimates that a vaccine could be a year away. But this week, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that a vaccine for Covid-19 could be ready as early as November as the FDA fast-tracks vaccine trials. The Department of Health and Human Services has already inked contracts to order $100 million worth of needles and syringes for a mass vaccination campaign. According to the World Health Organization, there were more than 100 potential Covid-19 vaccines in preclinical trials and 10 undergoing human trials this week.
The race for a vaccine heats up as tension between the U.S. and China escalates after nearly two years of trade spats. U.S. President Donald Trump attacked China this week, claiming they instigated “the Wuhan virus” and then covered it up. Trump said Friday he will end the U.S. relationship with the WHO, which he has accused of being under Chinese control and complicit in the coverup. He also announced he would implement new sanctions and visa restrictions for officials in China who had a role in Beijing’s new national security bill that critics say will reduce Hong Kong’s autonomy from the mainland.