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China's Sinopharm says COVID-19 vaccine will be available by December

China's Sinopharm says COVID-19 vaccine will be available by December
China is one of several countries in a cutthroat race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- A Chinese vaccine maker says the firm will be ready to roll out a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.

Sinopharm, a unit of China National Pharmaceutical Group, said Phase 3 trials for the vaccine have started at the international level. When the tests are completed, the vaccine is to quickly enter the screening and approval phase, the firm said, according to Chinese news service Guangming Daily on Tuesday.

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The late-stage tests involving human subjects began Aug. 11. According to Sinopharm, if the vaccine is approved, the firm expects 120 million doses to be produced annually at the Beijing Bio-Institute Biological Products and another 100 million doses at the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.

The Chinese vaccine maker also confirmed it is conducting late-stage trials in the United Arab Emirates.

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Sinopharm Chairman Liu Jingzhen said in an interview with state media his firm expects to make the vaccine publicly available at the end of December following approval. Liu also said two doses of the vaccine will provide "100 percent immunity," at a cost of about $144.

"It will not be set at a very expensive price," he said.

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China is one of several countries in a cutthroat race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In July, the United States agreed to an experimental vaccine that would inoculate 50 million Americans for about $40 per person. The vaccine is under development at Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE.

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Last week, a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said the Sinopharm vaccine is safe and generates an immune response, Chinese state-owned news agency Xinhua reported Sunday.

The results were from an interim analysis of Phase 1 and 2 trials of the Sinopharm vaccine. Patients showed no side effects, according to the paper.

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