China approves first home-grown mRNA Covid vaccine
China has approved its first home-produced mRNA Covid vaccine, months after ending strict pandemic rules.
Drug regulators cleared the vaccine, developed by CSPC Pharmaceutical Group, for emergency use, the company said.
China’s labs have been trying to create an mRNA vaccine for years – the country refused to clear foreign-made ones for widespread domestic use.
Studies show Chinese vaccines have been less effective than mRNA shots in preventing deaths and severe illness.
The slow expansion of China’s vaccine rollout, coupled with its lack of an mRNA vaccine, fuelled the implementation of its “zero-Covid” policy, which included unprecedented lockdowns and was dropped after protests late last year.
China has mainly used only its domestically produced vaccines: CoronaVac, made by a company called Sinovac, and Sinopharm.
Both use parts of a dead coronavirus to expose the body to Covid and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies.
The mRNA technology was used commercially for the first time in Covid vaccines. The jabs use a molecule of genetic code called messenger RNA to generate an immune response. That trains the body to fight off the real virus when it comes into contact with it.
CSPC said the vaccine showed good results in a trial when used as a booster vaccine for those who had already received other shots.
The incidence of adverse events was “substantially lower” in the elderly group compared with the adult group, it said.
The news comes as cases fall in the world’s most populous country. Last month, China’s top leaders declared a “decisive victory” over Covid.