China's pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm will expand COVID-19 vaccine production capacity to 3 billion doses per year, becoming the world's biggest vaccine producer for the virus, Chairman of Sinopharm Group Yu Qingming told the media.
Besides vaccine production plants in Beijing and Wuhan, the group is expanding production and packaging capacity by also making use of its institutes in Changchun, Shanghai, Lanzhou and Chengdu, Yu said during interviews with the People's Daily.
All of China's more than 5,000 national-level lawmakers and political advisors who have congregated in Beijing for the ongoing legislative two sessions have received Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines, he said.
After realizing yearly production capacity of 3 billion, Sinopharm will be the largest vaccine producer in the world, according to Yu.
Yu, also a deputy to the National People's Congress, proposed during this year's two sessions to improve domestic medicine logistics system and promote domestic medical device development and manufacturing considering the shortages in these areas exposed during the COVID-19 epidemic, according to Yu's proposals the Global Times obtained from Sinopharm.
So far, two COVID-19 vaccines separately developed by Sinopharm's biological institutes in Beijing and Wuhan have been granted conditional market approval, along with another two separately developed by Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech and Tianjin-based CanSinoBIO.
Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for market in five countries - United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, China, Bolivia and Seychelles. The vaccines have also been approved for emergency use in 40 countries including Serbia being the first European country and Hungary the first EU member for the inoculation, according to Yu.
Another 80 countries and international organizations have also expressed interest in Sinopharm vaccines, Yu said, noting that the group has sent more than 100 million doses to domestic and overseas markets and 60 million shots of them have been administered without serious side effects reported.
As to concerns over the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines on senior citizens, Yu said the Wuhan institute's vaccine was approved for people aged 18 and above on February 25, including the elderly group.
The oldest recipient of Sinopharm vaccines is nearly 100 years old, he noted.
Data from Phase III clinical trials show that the Sinopharm vaccines are also safe and effective on the 3-17 age group, according to Yu.
Recent experiments also showed that Sinopharm vaccines are effective to prevent infections of 10 coronavirus variants, including those discovered in South Africa and the UK, he said.