Stringent Safety Protocols in the US Shifted The Vaccine Race in China’s Favor

"Coronavirus Vaccine"(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by Daniel Foster

The global push to produce a coronavirus vaccine is gathering pace as scientists all over the world are working to develop the vaccine. The fastest vaccine that was ever developed took four years, and scientists are working to do it under one year. However, the caution that is being exercised by drug makers in America has placed Chine in the front row of producing the vaccine. 

Moderna, a leading COVID-19 vaccine developer, made a statement this month that the coronavirus vaccine they are trying to create will not be available for emergency use authorization until November 25. On the other hand, the US-based trial sites for AstraZeneca, another frontrunner in the vaccine development has been placed on hold after a participant in Britain developed a serious illness.

The stringent safety protocols in America have shifted the race to develop a vaccine in China’s favor.

“Presiden China Hadiri APEC 2013” (CC BY 2.0) by APEC 2013

Xi Jinping, China’s leader, has repeatedly urged scientists’ in the country to expedite the research and development of the vaccine for COVID-19. Drugmakers and Pharmaceutical companies in China were also told to treat their job as an “important political task” and do all of what they can to follow that directive.

Out of the ten COVID-19 vaccines worldwide that have entered Phase 3 clinical trials, four of them were developed by Chinese companies. There are two from China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a unit of state-owned pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group.

Then another vaccine called CoronaVac was developed by Sinovac Biotech. The remaining one was being developed jointly by vaccine company CanSino Biologics and by the Chinese military-linked Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. 

Last month, Yang Xiaoming, CNBG Chairman, said that its vaccines’ progress is going faster than expected. The company has over 42,000 participants and carried out Phase 3 trials in various countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Argentian, Bahrain, Peru, and Morocco. To add, the chairman of CNBG also said that they are “only one last mile away from eventual success.”

Last month, the Chief bio-safety expert, Wu Guizhen, also told the state broadcaster that China’s coronavirus vaccines could be available for the general public as early as November. 

A senior fellow for global health at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations was also quoted saying, “I believe it’s very likely they’ll be the first to announce the successful development of a vaccine, But the key question is how well the international society, especially the scientific community, will recognize it.”

US Coronavirus Vaccine Likely To Meet With Strong Pushback From Experts

Meanwhile, in the United States, as much as President Trump wanted to expedite the development of the vaccine, any move that could undermine the vaccine’s safety and efficacy is highly likely to be met with strong pushback from experts, drug makers, and regulators. 

Despite the rising concerns that the coronavirus vaccine could be rushed due to political pressure as the President hopes to have the vaccine ready before election day, the US Food and Drug Administration published new guidance this week saying that they need to see at least two months of safety data after volunteers had their second dose of vaccine before it can even be applied for emergency use authorization. This guideline would make it impossible to have the vaccine ready before November 3.