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China's COVID-19 vaccine development and China-Africa friendship
By CG Lin Jing, published on Cape Times, August 21

Up till now, the total number of COVID-19 infections in the world stood over 22 million cases. As the ultimate weapon to curb the global pandemic of the virus, COVID-19 vaccines are highly expected by vast majority of the people in the world.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chinese government has been putting the people first, takes it as its responsibility to ensure not just the life and health of its own citizens, but also global public health, and has mobilized huge resources for COVID-19 vaccine development.

Top medical scientists and experts have gathered from around the nation, and resources from enterprises, universities, and research institutes have been pooled, to support the vaccine development.

The hard work of Chinese scientists and experts has been paid off abundantly. Up to now, five categories of vaccines are being developed in China: inactivated vaccines, recombinant protein vaccines, live attenuated influenza vaccines, adenovirus vaccines, and nucleic acid-based vaccines. China leads the world in the development of certain types of vaccines, with more than half a dozen candidates in clinical development.

According to the news released by World Health Organization on August 6th, among the six COVID-19 vaccine candidates which have entered phase three trials, three of them are developed by China.

The first China-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate to reach the stage of clinical trial is 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 Chen Wei. According to the data published by The Lancet, in the phase one and phase two clinical trials, the vaccine has been found to be safe, well-tolerated, and able to generate an immune response against SARS-CoV-2 in humans. CanSino has been in discussions with Russia, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia to conduct Phase three trials.

The National Intellectual Property Administration of China granted the invention patent to Ad5-nCoV on August 11, which demonstrates the vaccine's originality and creativity, and further confirms the vaccine's efficacy and safety. This is also the great rebuttal to the US' groundless accusations of Chinese hackers trying to steal novel coronavirus data on treatments and vaccine development.

The other two China-based COVID-19 vaccine candidates are both inactivated vaccines, adopting the traditional technical route.

The inactivated vaccine candidate jointly developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products and Sinopharm, a state-owned pharmaceutical company, entered first and second phase clinical trials on April 12, and produced antibodies in all participants. “The effect is ideal and no one has experienced severe side effects,” the chairman of SinoPharm told media.

SinoPharm then started phase three clinical trials in late June in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and the product is expected to enter the market by the end of this year, with total capacity of production up to 220 mln doses/year.

According to the Chairman of SinoPharm, when the vaccine is approved for large scale use, if two injections of vaccine are given, the protection rate will reach 100% , and every 2 doses will cost less than 1,000 yuan($144).

Sinovac Biotech Ltd., another Chinese biopharmaceutical company, has also announced promising results for its own inactivated-virus vaccine candidate in the first and second phase clinical trials, and started phase three trials to further test its efficacy and safety in July in Brazil.

As part of phase three clinical trials, overseas staff from some Chinese state-owned enterprises, officials from some medical departments, senior managers of vaccine research institutes, as well as some front-line health workers, have been vaccinated voluntarily and shown good effects.

The great efforts and achievements made by China on development of COVID-19 vaccines well demonstrate China’s firm commitment to making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good.

China and Africa have offered mutual support and fought shoulder to shoulder against the COVID-19 pandemic. At the early stage of the epidemic in China, African countries, South Africa in particular, provided sincere and valuable support to China in many ways.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Africa, China has provided Africa with huge quantity of medical supplies, actively shared knowledge of epidemic prevention and control with African countries, and sent medical expert groups to many African countries to provide on-spot guidance in their anti-epidemic efforts. Chinese medical teams stationed in African countries have given full play to their professional and technical advantages, and actively assisted the host countries in epidemic prevention and control. The brotherhood between Africa and China is more abundant in times of adversity.

China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa's fight against COVID-19. As being pledged by President Xi Jinping at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19 on the evening of 17 June, once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit. The move once again demonstrates the fraternal friendship between Africa and China, and will further enhance Africa's confidence and ability to overcome the pandemic.

China and Africa must combat COVID-19 with joint efforts, enhance cooperation, and take their time-honored traditional friendship forward. Together, China and Africa will build a China-Africa community of health for all and an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.



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