A Chinese covid-19 vaccine based on mRNA technology has received government approval for the first time, but not in China.
The injection, developed by Walvax Biotechnology, Suzhou Abogen Biosciences and the Chinese military, was approved this week by Indonesia for emergency use, giving China a long-sought victory in developing a local vaccine that uses mRNA in a politically sensitive moment for the ruling. communist party.
First developed and approved in the West, mRNA vaccines have been adopted by countries around the world, including Indonesia, and are considered among the most effective vaccines the world has to offer. But more than two years into the pandemic, they are still not available in China, which has relied on an increasingly draconian “zero covid” approach to keep cases and deaths from the virus low.
A two-dose regimen of the Chinese mRNA vaccine had a 71.17 percent efficacy rate against infection with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, according to Indonesia’s food and drug agency. Walvax has not published any details of the efficacy of his injection of mRNA from his latest late-stage trial.
The mRNA vaccine has been approved for people 18 years of age and older. Indonesia has approved seven other Covid vaccines, including two made by Chinese companies, as well as BioNTech-Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Nearly 73 percent of the population have received at least two injections, according to the Indonesian Institute. Ministry of Health.
China’s 1.4 billion people are now one step closer to having access to an mRNA vaccine. While Beijing said early last year that it would approve the mRNA shot made by BioNTech and Pfizer, it later said it would focus on its own vaccines.
“At present, China has fully mastered the key core technologies of mRNA vaccines,” said Li Yunchun, chairman of Walvax. aforementioned as stated in Chinese state media. He said that China was now in control of the entire supply chain of raw materials to produce the vaccine, which is known as AWcorna.
By approving AWcorna, Indonesia was adding another alternative to the country’s vaccine program, said Penny K. Lukito, director of the country’s food and drug agency. The vaccine, which will be made in Indonesia, also presents “an opportunity for Indonesia to produce its own mRNA vaccine,” said Ms Lukito.
The agency also said the vaccine was halal certified, an important factor for the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
China’s own drug agency did not respond to a request for comment on the approval process. Its first Covid vaccine, developed by Sinopharm, a state-owned pharmaceutical company, was not approved at home until several weeks after two other countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, authorized it for emergency use in December 2020.
AWcorna’s approval in Indonesia comes weeks before the most important event on China’s political calendar: the 20th Communist Party congress.
Authorities across the country scrambled to impose massive testing campaigns and lockdown areas, sometimes even in response to just a handful of cases, to try to bring any outbreak under control ahead of congress. An estimated 36 cities and 207 million people in China are currently under some form of lockdown measure, according to Japan’s Nomura bank.
Videos of residents in various Chinese cities protesting have surfaced online more frequently as people grow more frustrated with lengthy and strict lockdowns in neighborhoods and on university campuses.
Some experts have said China’s “Covid Zero” strategy, which involves sealed borders, mass testing and rapid lockdowns, has been necessary in part because of the ineffectiveness of China’s own vaccines, which use a centuries-old method for inoculation. .
Dera Menra Shichabat other Zixu Wang contributed report.