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Vaccine firms go full steam ahead to meet demand

Date:2021-01-05 Clicks:258

A box of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine is unloaded after arriving on Monday at the local health department in Palembang, the capital of Indonesia's South Sumatra province. Indonesia plans to distribute the Sinovac vaccine to all of its 34 provinces. REUTERS

 

 

Production lines for a newly approved COVID-19 vaccine developed by State-owned Sinopharm Group were running at full throttle on Monday as more than a dozen vaccine manufacturers in China gear up to ensure a smooth and sufficient rollout of doses.

At Sinopharm's manufacturing site in Beijing's suburbs, filled vials of the vaccine-which had passed automated checks filtering out faulty doses-were packaged, labeled and coded, ready to make their way to inoculation sites across the country.

"This production line is able to complete the packaging of more than 300 vials per minute. … and each dose is assigned an identification code that allows us to examine if the entire production, distribution and immunization procedures are up to standard," said Yang Xiaoming, chairman of China National Biotech Group, a subsidiary of Sinopharm, during a livestreaming session on Monday.

The two-dose vaccine, created by Sinopharm's Beijing Institute of Biological Products, is the first to receive conditional approval from China's top drug regulator after showing a 79.34 percent efficacy rate from the ongoing stage-3 clinical trials last week.

A staff member tests samples of the COVID-19 inactivated vaccine at a vaccine production base of the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., Ltd. in Beijing, April 11, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

The official approval that paves the way for mass inoculation nationwide, along with several green lights given to the vaccine from foreign health authorities, have all piled pressure on the company's manufacturing capacity, according to Yang.

"To fulfill domestic and global demand, we have built three new plants equipped with biosafety precautions to make the liquid doses, and set up new facilities devoted to filling vials and packaging," he said.

"The goal is to bring qualified doses to every person who needs the vaccine at a faster rate," Yang added.

According to Sinopharm, the annual production capacity in its facilities in Beijing is expected to rise from 120 million at the moment to 1 billion by the end of this year.

As factory staff works tirelessly to ensure the smooth operation of production lines, Yang said a major challenge is to assign a limited workforce and ensure every step is monitored by qualified professionals.

"As manufacturers, we are responsible for ensuring the quantity and quality of vaccines at the same time," he said.

The vaccine from Sinopharm is one of five domestic vaccines undergoing stage-3 clinical trials overseas, making China a global frontrunner for COVID-19 vaccines.

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Address:No.28, Nanli Road, Hong-shan District, Wuchang, Wuhan, Hubei Province, P. R. China

Postcode:430068