Since the outbreak of COVID-19, more than 22 million confirmed cases and close to 800,000 deaths have been recorded worldwide. Up till now, there is no effective medication for treating the disease. As the world appears to be heading into a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are increasingly concerned about the hazard of the virus and the resulting economic and social implications, expecting that there will be a solution.
Vaccination is the most effective and feasible method for epidemic prevention. Since March, there have been 165 researches regarding COVID-19 vaccine globally. According to a WHO report released on August 13, there are currently seven vaccines in phase III with the potential for early use and three of which are being independently developed by Chinese R/D. Moreover, another four vaccines developed by Chinese R/D have also completed phase II trials and are ready to enter phase III.
The current results of vaccine studies are quite exciting. Those hopefully to be fully accessible in the next few months are mainly Genetic Vaccines mRNA, inactivated virus vaccines and Viral Vector Vaccines.
A vaccine needs to go through three phases from development to clinical use, with phase I mainly to evaluate the safety of the vaccine, phase II mainly to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine while exploring immunization procedures, and phase III mainly to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in a larger population. From the announced results of the first two phases, these seven vaccines are safe and effective with immunization rates higher than 96%. People are looking forward to the results of the phase III trials. It is known that the EU has ordered hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine for EU citizens based on current research results.
China has been focusing on the development of COVID-19 vaccines since February this year. The three vaccines developed by Sinopharm, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, Beijing Institute of Biological Products and Sinovac Biotech are all inactivated vaccines, all of which have entered phase III trials. The development of an inactivated vaccine is simply to isolate the virus strains for reproduction, culture and then kill these live viruses to lose their infectivity and replication ability, while retaining their part of the function of stimulating the body to produce an immune response. Finally make them into a vaccine after purification and other processes. In comparison to other methods the development of inactivated vaccines is faster, but the investment is greater.
According to reports, large-scale phase III clinical trials of the above vaccines have been conducted in China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Brazil and other countries, which have verified their effectiveness, reliability and safety with no adverse reactions. Two doses of injection will be required. The first injection can provide 97% immune protection and take effect within 2 weeks. The second dose of injection will be given after one month, which can achieve almost 100% immune protection. The vaccines will be available for use by the end of the year. At present, Sinopharm has invested more than 2 billion RMB (200 million Euros) to build a production line with a capacity of 220 million doses of vaccines. It is estimated that the price of two doses of injection will be about 1,000 RMB (around 125 Euros).
COVID-19 is the common enemy of mankind. As the spread of virus knows no borders, to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic requires joint efforts of governments and scientists of all countries to achieve real success. The rights for treatment and protection should not differ for country or race.
In his speech at the opening ceremony of the 73rd World Health Assembly video conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that COVID-19 vaccine developed and produced in China, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution in ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. At present, countries including the UAE, Brazil, Peru, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan and Mexico are discussing vaccine cooperation with China and it is estimated that more developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America will join in.