Sinopharm’s production capacity for inactivated COVID-19 vaccines will reach up to 1 billion doses in 2021, with strengthened efforts to support the world in its fight against the pandemic, said a representative from the Chinese pharmaceutical firm.
At the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly on May 18, 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that “COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good.”
“Sinopharm is proactively implementing President Xi's commitment by providing qualified vaccines to help people around the world fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ma Ke, deputy director of the department of international cooperation of Sinopharm group, told the Belt and Road Portal in a recent interview.
Ma explained that two out of the ten COVID-19 vaccines authorized for phase-3 clinical trials are developed by Sinopharm. “These two vaccines are also the earliest ones to enter phase-3 human clinical trials,” Ma said.
“The international clinical trials of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines are being carried out smoothly in 10 countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Peru, Argentina and Morocco, with more than 56,000 volunteers of 125 nationalities being vaccinated,” said Ma, adding that some government officials were among the volunteers, including Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa and Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed.
On September 14 and November 3 of 2020, Bahrain and the UAEapproved emergency use of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Vice President and also the Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was vaccinated. “This reflects these countries’ confidence in our vaccines,” Ma said.
In addition to vaccine development, Sinopharm has been supporting the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in other ways. “At the earlier stage of the pandemic, we were sourcing supplies from around the world to help fight the domestic outbreak. Later, when the situation in China was brought under control, we started to provide Chinese supplies to other countries that are still suffering,” Ma said.
To date, Sinopharm has helped more than 130 countries around the world purchase nearly 3 billion anti-pandemic items from China. Many of the supplies were transported to countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) routes, according to Ma.
“Even before the pandemic, Sinopharm had already carried out international cooperation with countries along the BRI routes,” Ma said, noting that many Chinese health and medical firms have been exploring cooperation opportunities with the countries in the health sector for a long time.
Sinopharm has developed stable partnerships with some countries along the BRI routes in terms of mutual coordination and global resource allocation. “For example, we have worked with Vietnam for nearly 20 years on a joint venture western medicine manufacturing plant, covering more than 90 percent of local hospitals. In Malaysia, we established Chinese traditional medicine production firms to process and import local herbs,” Ma said.
“It should be recognized that countries get to leverage their strengths through such complementary approaches to cooperation,” Ma said.
With more Chinese experience shared along the BRI routes, China will not only increase its international influence, but the development of the public health sector among the countries and regions along the routes will also be promoted, according to Ma.