Chinese health regulators said Thursday that they have given conditional approval to a coronavirus vaccine developed by state-owned Sinopharm.
The two-dose vaccine is the first approved for general use in China. The go-ahead comes as the country has begun to vaccinate 50 million people before the Lunar New Year holiday in February.
Conditional approval means that research is still ongoing, the company will be required to submit follow-up data as well as reports of any adverse effects after the vaccine is sold on the market, Chen Shifei, the deputy commissioner of the National Medical Products Administration, told a news conference.
The company “must continuously update the vaccine’s instructions, labels and report to the agency,” Shifei said.
The vaccine was developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of state-owned conglomerate Sinopharm. The company announced Wednesday that preliminary data from last-stage trials had shown it to be 79.3 per cent effective.
It is an inactive vaccine, which means the virus was grown in a lab and then killed. The germ is then injected into the body to generate an immune response.
Final proof of its effectiveness will depend on publication of more data.
Sinopharm is one of at least five Chinese developers that are in a global race to create vaccines for the disease that has killed more than 1.8 million people.
In addition to the emergency vaccinations already underway, China plans to start vaccinating high-risk population, such as seniors as well as people with existing chronic illnesses. Officials did not say what percentage of the population they will vaccinate in China.
“This is different in every country but the general thinking is that it has to reach 60 per cent to protect the entire population,” said Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission.
Conflicting information on vaccine
Practically, it means that the drug or product in question may be restricted for certain age groups, according to Tao Lina, a former government immunologist.
Officials declined to name a particular price and gave conflicting statements about it. “It will certainly be in the limit of what people can afford,” said Zheng Zhongwei, a National Health Commission official.
A minute later, Zeng, the other NHC official, stepped in to say that the vaccines “will definitely be free for the public.”
The vaccine is already under mass production, though officials did not answer questions about current production capacity.
Approval of China’s vaccine could also mean hope for countries around the world who may not have access to the Pfizer or Moderna shots, which have stricter cold chain requirements. Sinopharm’s vaccine is able to be stored at 2 C to 8 C, or a normal refrigeration temperature.
“This is very exciting that there is another vaccine and one that can be distributed in locations that don’t have the cold chain,” said Ashely St. John, an immunologist at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore. “But at the same time we have to temper the excitement. We have to understand the long term efficacy, effect on transmission and effect on severe disease.”
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B.C. looking into possibility of mixing and matching, further delaying COVID-19 vaccine doses – CTV News Vancouver
B.C. announced its full COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan through September on Friday, and while it relies on regular shipments of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, officials are looking into the safety of mixing doses between the two.
Dr. Bonnie Henry explained during a morning news conference about vaccine rollout that discussions have been ongoing across the country, especially after a recent delay in Pfizer shipments.
The top doctor said Canadian health officials are in contact with their counterparts in the U.K., where some second doses of the vaccine are being delayed by as much as three months.
“We’re trying to understand the impact that has on effectiveness of the vaccine,” she said.
Henry said there has been “some permissive language” around using the same type of vaccine. In other words, she explained, because both Moderna and Pfizer are mRNA vaccines, there’s a better chance they could be interchangeable.
“But that is a last resort. It’s only if the original vaccine is not available,” she said. “We’re still looking at the best advice on that and whether it’s better to delay the second dose for longer or to provide the second dose with the alternate product.”
One example scenario Henry gave is if an individual is at the 42-day mark after receiving their first Pfizer dose but there is no longer any Pfizer vaccine available, health officials are discussing what they would do in that instance.
“We would have to make a decision about whether we use available doses of Moderna or whether we extend and wait for Pfizer to become available. So that’s the situation we’re not yet in, but that we may be facing,” she said.
“Right now we don’t have good information to inform one or the other of those decisions.”
Henry said there is little data on the matter right now, but added there’s been weekly discussions on the topic with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, with another call planned for this weekend.
Alberta received shipment of 21,450 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines this week – Global News
About 97,785 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered to Albertans and more are likely going to be able to get their second dose thanks to another shipment.
Alberta Health confirmed the province received a shipment of Pfizer vaccine this week. That shipment included 21,450 doses.
“With 96,500 doses of vaccine delivered, thousands of the most vulnerable seniors and health-care workers now have an extra layer of protection,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday.
As of Wednesday, Alberta Health Services had administered just 7,272 second doses.
On Monday, after learning of a delay in Pfizer vaccine, Premier Jason Kenney said first dose appointments were being paused to ensure there was enough vaccine available for committed second dose appointments.
On Tuesday, Hinshaw said it seemed like there was enough vaccine in hand as well as what had been committed, even with the reduction in Pfizer supplies, to be able to offer that second dose to those who have booked it.
Alberta Health Services prioritizing second doses of COVID-19 vaccine
On Thursday, Alberta’s top doctor reiterated the province would do its “utmost” to ensure “that every individual who’s received their first dose does get their second dose within the 42-day timeline.
“If not, they’ll continue to be eligible and will receive it as soon as possible after that.”
Hinshaw said Alberta was working with the federal government and other provinces to use current allocations “as wisely as possible.”
What to know about 2nd doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta as shortages persist
She added that while there are many unknowns with the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, health officials can consider evidence from other types of vaccines.
“We know that with other vaccines, that when someone has their first dose, there is no end date at which time they’re no longer eligible for a second dose,” Hinshaw said.
“And we know, sometimes, with some other vaccines, that if there is a little bit of a longer interval between first and second dose, the overall long-lasting immune response can sometimes be better.”
On Friday, Alberta Health said 643 new COVID-19 cases had been identified in the last 24 hours and 13,019 tests had been completed. That puts Alberta’s positivity rate at about 4.9 per cent.
There are currently 9,987 active cases in Alberta.
As of Friday, there are 691 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, with 115 of those in ICU.
Twelve additional deaths were reported to Alberta Health, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,512.
Of the 12 deaths reported Friday, five were in the Edmonton zone: a man in his 70s from Jasper Place Continuing Care Centre, a man in his 80s from Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre, a man in his 80s from Shepherd’s Care Vanguard, a woman in her 90s from Laurier House Lynnwood and a man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at the Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital. Alberta Health said all of these cases included comorbidities.
Three deaths were reported in the Calgary zone: a man in his 80s from Bethany Calgary, a woman in her 90s from Revera Scenic Acres Retirement Residence and a man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Foothills Medical Centre. All of these deaths included comorbidities.
Three deaths were reported in the Central zone: a woman in her 50, a woman in her 80s and a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Seasons Camrose. All three included comorbidities.
A woman in her 90s with comorbidities who was linked to the outbreak at Prairie Lake Supportive Living in the North zone also died.
Alberta will not relax public health restrictions yet, despite falling cases of COVID-19
In terms of vaccine, the province said 97,785 doses had been administered as of Jan. 21.
“Our positivity rate, active cases and hospitalizations continue to decline,” Hinshaw said Thursday. “This is good news and shows restrictions are helping to prevent more people from being exposed and getting sick with this virus, and that the overwhelming majority of Albertans are doing their part.
“We are not in the clear just yet,” she said.
“Our cases are falling, but we still have the second highest active case rates per capita in Canada.
“While our hospitalizations have decreased significantly from the peak, they remain extremely high.”
An additional 16 deaths were also announced, bringing Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,500.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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