CHINA China's vaccine makers step up R&D, innovation

CHINA

China's vaccine makers step up R&D, innovation

China Daily

10:14, August 01, 2022

China's COVID-19 vaccine makers are expected to step up efforts to pursue innovation-driven high-quality development, based on their fast growth in the past few years, according to industry experts and business leaders.

A Sinovac technician displays CoronaVac vaccine samples at a factory in Beijing in July 2021. [CHEN XIAOGEN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Since the outbreak of the disease, Chinese vaccine developers have moved swiftly to design vaccines against the contagion. So far, the country has approved seven homegrown COVID-19 vaccines for the domestic market.

The total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered on the Chinese mainland was around 3.41 billion as of July 14, data from the National Health Commission showed.

Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed China has provided more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries, regions and international organizations.

However, analysts said domestic vaccine producers must face the reality of shrinking demand for COVID-19 vaccines, and refocus on product quality improvements while strengthening efforts to better meet disease prevention goals in both global and domestic markets.

A report from Southwest Securities said nearly 64 percent of the world's population has already been vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, while around 57 percent have been fully inoculated.

This means demand for COVID-19 vaccines for basic inoculation programs will be around 3.3 billion doses globally, while the figure for booster vaccines is expected to be 6.1 billion doses worldwide, the report estimated.

So far, three Chinese COVID-19 vaccines, manufactured by China National Biotec Group, Sinovac Biotech Ltd and CanSino Biologics Inc, have won emergency use approval from the World Health Organization.

Chen Jia, a researcher at the International Monetary Institute of the Renmin University of China, said:"Chinese vaccine companies have become more aware of the importance of independent innovation. The fierce competition they are facing has told them developing core technologies independently is the key for sustainable and healthy development."

In total, more than 119 countries, regions and international organizations have approved the use of COVID-19 vaccines made by CNBG, which has produced more than 3 billion doses of such vaccines at home and overseas.

Sinovac, which has been granted access licenses by more than 60 countries, international organizations and regions in total for its COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac, has supplied more than 2.8 billion doses worldwide.

Both companies have established manufacturing cooperation with local partners in a series of countries.

Pearson Liu, senior brand director and spokesman for Sinovac, said the company steps up efforts on the R&D and exports of its COVID-19 vaccines. The company has strengthened its capability in industrial chain coordination and global cooperation regarding key links for vaccine design and supply, such as animal testing, clinical trials, product registration and production.

Sinovac will continue to reinforce innovation and going-global efforts, as that is the trend in the industry, Liu said.

Sinopharm, parent company of CNBG, currently produces nearly 100 vaccine products and more than 200 bio-products. It has spent more than 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) on scientific research during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period and is increasing investment in R&D.

Chen, with RUC, said Chinese vaccine makers' deeper participation in global vaccine industrial chains has created favorable conditions for them to increase their presence in global markets.

The improvement of Chinese vaccine enterprises' position in the global vaccine industry was achieved in the past two years through expanding production capacity, establishing cross-region logistics, improving commercialization, and strengthening international cooperation, he said.

Chen Qiulin, vice-director of the Research Center for Health Industry Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also said exporting COVID-19 vaccines has helped Chinese companies accumulate experience in understanding international best practices more deeply, and increase their presence in global markets.

Such experience is especially valuable for Chinese vaccine makers as they are expected to strengthen independent research for in-house innovations in pursuit of stronger competitiveness in both domestic and global markets, he said.

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