Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine 79% effective, seeks approval in China

December 30, 2020 - 1:00 PM
A Sinopharm sign is seen at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing, China, September 5, 2020. (Reuters/Tingshu Wang/File Photo)

BEIJING/SINGAPORE (UPDATED 2:29 p.m.) — A vaccine developed by a unit of China National Biotec Group (CNBG) is 79.34% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 and the company is seeking regulatory approval for general public use in China, the developer said on Wednesday.

The efficacy rate, based on interim analysis of Phase 3 clinical trials, is lower than 86% rate for the same vaccine announced by the United Arab Emirates on Dec. 9, based on preliminary data from trials there.

A company spokeswoman declined to explain the discrepancy and said detailed results would be released later, without giving a timeline.

There have been fragmental releases of efficacy data for Chinese vaccine makers COVID-19 candidates, which are being considered by many developing countries for mass inoculation campaigns.

Health experts warn that the differing results could undermine confidence in these vaccines.

Turkish researchers said on Thursday their interim result on a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech showed 91.25% efficacy only to see a confusing readout the same day from Brazil which said the vaccine’s efficacy was between 50% and 90%.

The CNBG vaccine is among the five most advanced candidates from China in terms of development and has been used in the country’s emergency use programme that has vaccinated hundreds of thousands of people since July.

The CNBG unit, called Beijing Biological Products Institute, said in a statement that the efficacy rate is based on interim analysis of data from its Phase 3 trials and it had applied to the National Medical Products Administration for conditional approval of the vaccine.

It did not give details such as the number of infections in the trial, what, if any, side effects it identified, how many volunteers were given the vaccine or a placebo.

CNBG, a subsidiary of state-backed China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), has another vaccine in late-stage trials and both have been approved for emergency use in China even as studies have not been completed. —Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Miyoung Kim and Ryan Woo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez & Simon Cameron-Moore