Chinese regulators have approved the country's first homegrown coronavirus vaccine, developed by state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, officials announced Thursday.
The approval comes a day after Sinopharm said its vaccine is 79.34% effective, citing interim analysis of Phase 3 clinical trials.
China has drastically scaled up its vaccine emergency use program in recent weeks. Since December 15, it has administered more than 3 million vaccine doses on "key groups" in the population, Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of China's National Health Commission, said at a news conference Thursday.
That's on top of the 1.5 million doses administered on "high-risk groups" by the end of November, Zeng added.
Among those inoculated, fewer than 0.1% developed a light fever, and about two people per million developed "relative serious adverse reactions" such as allergies, according to Zeng.
Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., a Sinopharm subsidiary, said in a statement published Wednesday that interim results show the Sinop(CNN)harm vaccine is safe and people who received two doses produced high-level antibodies.
But the statement gave no details on the data, such as the trial size, the number of infections in the trial and side effects.
Coronavirus vaccines developed by Sinopharm have already been administered to hundreds of thousands of people under a controversial emergency use program approved by the Chinese government.
By November, nearly 1 million people had received a Sinopharm vaccine, according to the company's chairman, though he didn't specify which of the company's two vaccines they had received.
Though few details were provided, the statement released Wednesday said the vaccine met the standards of the World Health Organization and China's own regulator, the National Medical Products Administration.
The Sinopharm vaccine is less effective than those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have an efficacy rate of about 95%. Russia says its Sputnik V vaccine is 91% effective.
And the vaccine's efficacy rate of 79% is lower than the 86% announced by the United Arab Emirates for the same vaccine on December 9. The UAE based its results on an interim analysis of late-stage clinical trials conducted there from July. It has since approved the vaccine for public use.
The Sinopharm vaccine has a higher efficacy rate than the one developed by the UK's Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which averaged 70%. On Wednesday, the UK became the first country to approve that vaccine for public distribution.(CNN)