China has approved its first domestically developed mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, CSPC Pharmaceutical Group said.
China, whose home-grown vaccines are seen as less effective than the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA shots, has been racing to develop vaccines using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology since early 2020.
The long-awaited approval comes as infections have fallen sharply across China since it suddenly dropped its strict “zero-COVID” curbs in December, making the sales outlook for the newly approved vaccine moderate.
But it would give China an additional option to tackle future outbreaks and a base for development against newly emerging variants, scientists said.
Its top leaders declared a “decisive victory” over COVID last month.
CSPC said its vaccine trials showed adverse effects were substantially lower in an elderly group compared with an adult group, which could help China, which has stressed the need to focus on protecting its vulnerable elderly population.
The company said its independently developed mRNA vaccine SYS6006 targets some major Omicron variants and its booster dose showed a good neutralisation effect against Omicron subvariants BA.5, BF.7, BQ.1.1., XBB.1.5 and CH.1.1. in clinical trials.
In a study of 4,000 participants from Dec. 10 to Jan. 18 when China was experiencing a surge in infections, the vaccine showed efficacy of 85.3 per cent 14 to 28 days after booster vaccination.
CSPC did not say how many doses it plans to produce. It said the vaccine could be stored at 2 degrees to 8 degrees C (35.6 degrees to 46.4 degrees F) for a long time.
The firm won emergency approval for clinical trials of the mRNA shot in April last year, around the same time as CanSino, another China-based company that is testing an mRNA Omicron booster shot.
(Edits by EP News Bureau)