China has given conditional approval for a single dose COVID-19 vaccine, touted to be a rival to Johnson & Johnson's one-jab shot cleared by the US drug regulator on Sunday.
China's first Ad5-nCoV COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out on Friday, the state-run Global Times reported on Sunday. Phase-I clinical trials of the vaccine started on March 16, last year, making it the world's first COVID-19 candidate vaccine that entered clinical trials, it said.
It is the only single-dose COVID-19 vaccine that has been given conditional approval to be rolled out in China, the report quoted last Friday's story by the state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV). People can get desirable protective effect after 14 days of inoculation.
The protective effect can last at least six months after a single-dose inoculation and it can increase immune response by 10 to 20 times if the second dose is taken half a year after the first one, the report said. With this, China's medical products regulator has approved five coronavirus vaccines which include Sinovac, Sinopharm, CanSinoBio and another by Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.
One of the developers of the Ad5-nCoV vaccine said that the annual production capacity can reach 500 million doses, which means 500 million people can be vaccinated in a year. Phase-I clinical trials of the vaccine started on March 16, 2020, making it the world's first COVID-19 candidate vaccine that entered clinical trials, the Global Times report said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Though China has been supplying its vaccines to different countries, none of them have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Ad5-nCoV vaccine is a recombinant adenovirus vector vaccine jointly developed by CanSino Biologics and researchers from the Institute of Military Medicine under the Academy of Military Sciences led by Chen Wei, who is an infectious disease expert and a researcher at the Institute of Military Medicine under the Academy of Military Sciences.
"We have data for six months so far to prove the vaccine's efficacy. People don't need to take another dose within the first six months after their first inoculation. What if the epidemic is not over after six months? We have also developed the vaccine so that its effect is strengthened even after six months," Chen said. The US Food and Drug Administration on Saturday approved Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, the third jab to be authorised to fight the pandemic that has claimed over half a million lives in the country.
The vaccine is set to be a cost-effective alternative to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and can be stored in a refrigerator instead of a freezer. Trials found it prevented serious illness but was 66 per cent effective overall when moderate cases were included. The vaccine is made by the Belgian firm Janssen.
China has been stepping up coronavirus vaccine production as it looks to vaccinate its 1.4 billion population and boost its vaccine diplomacy to make strategic gains. Last Friday, China welcomed India supplying more COVID-19 vaccines to a number of countries, playing down reports that New Delhi has beaten Beijing in its vaccine diplomacy around the world.
Responding to a question on a report that India has beaten China at its own game of vaccine diplomacy, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin during a media briefing said, We welcome that and hope to see more countries taking actions to provide vaccines to the world, especially developing countries, to help with the global response. "China has been overcoming domestic difficulties to provide vaccines to other countries in concrete measure, he said, flagging China's own vaccine requirement to inoculate its 1.4 billion population.He reiterated that China has been providing vaccines to 53 countries and exporting vaccines to 27 countries, amid reports that many of those countries are yet to receive Chinese vaccines or the promised quantities.