The head of a major state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company said its coronavirus vaccine will be commercially available by the end of the year. Liu Jingzhen, the chairman of SinoPharm, told a Chinese Communist Party newspaper that the vaccine would cost less than 1,000 yuan ($140) and be given in two shots, 28 days apart.
He said students and workers in major cities would need to get the vaccine, but not those living in sparsely populated rural areas.
“Not all of the 1.4 billion people in our country have to take it,” he said in an interview published on Tuesday in the Guangming Daily.
SinoPharm, which has two vaccines in trial, has an annual manufacturing capacity of 220 million doses, Liu 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.
Liu, who is also the company's Communist Party secretary, told the paper that he had been injected with the vaccine.
Reports that Chinese researchers and executives have received shots of their vaccines have raised ethical questions in some scientific circles.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.