China continues inoculating more and more of its citizens with two unproven and experimental COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to promote the merits of these vaccines to other countries.
The two vaccines in question were developed by China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG), a subsidiary of state-owned Sinopharm Group Co. (SINOPHARM), and Sinovac Biotech Ltd., a private vaccine development firm based in Beijing.
Chinese are now being inoculated with an inactivated vaccine candidate from CNBG and the CoronaVac vaccine from Sinovac. CNBG reports Phase 3 clinical trial of its inactivated vaccine in Peru and Morocco. CoronaVac is currently in phase 3 clinical trials in Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Turkey.
Neither of these vaccines has completed the final phase 3 clinical trials that will prove their safety and efficacy. Despite this, both CNBG and Sinovac have proceeded with their mass inoculations with the blessing of the Chinese government.
Starting late July, hundreds of thousands of Chinese were inoculated with both vaccines. The secret inoculations were later acknowledged by the National Health Commission (NHC). The agency said this vaccine was administered to medical staff, border inspection officials and other essential workers.
Zheng Zhongwei, director of the NHC's science and technology development center, said last month the central government in Beijing authorized the "emergency use" of the vaccine on July 22.
In September, CNBG admitted it's inoculated more than 350,000 Chinese outside its clinical trials with the vaccine. The trials have enrolled 40,000 people.
This week, CNBG said more than 168,000 people signed up to receive its vaccine and more than 91,000 are being considered. CNBG's vaccine has already been given to medical workers and employees of Chinese companies being sent abroad under an emergency authorization from NHC.
Jiaxing city south of Shanghai is inoculating select groups of people with CoronaVac. City officials said high-risk groups such as those "responsible for the basic operations of the city" are being given priority. Residents who have emergency needs are also being prioritized. They said CoronaVac is being provided under an emergency authorization.
"Currently, it seems Chinese students going abroad have a strong desire to take the vaccine," said a CNBG employee to a state-owned media outlet.
The central government has kept promising a vaccine for the general public will be widely available before the end of this year. Chinese drug companies have five vaccines in final stages of testing. None of these candidate vaccines has been approved for public use, however.