mandag 13. desember 2021

China was ready to approve Western mRNA vaccines months ago. Why is it still holding off?

When the highly infectious Delta variant hit China in the summer, some public health experts were hopeful that the country could soon receive an immunity boost from BioNTech's highly effective mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. In July, the shot was reported to have passed an expert review by Chinese regulators and was in the administration review stage, according to Fosun Pharma, the Chinese partner of BioNTech licensed to produce and distribute the vaccine in the Greater China region. Fosun was even planning to start domestic trial production by the end of August.

However, five months later there is still no word from Chinese officials on when -- or whether -- the vaccine will ever be approved, even as the newly emerged Omicron variant poses a fresh challenge to China's zero-Covid strategy -- and its less effective domestic vaccines.

Much remains unknown about the fast-spreading Omicron variant, which carries an unusually large amount of mutations that scientists worry could potentially make it more transmissible and less susceptible to existing vaccines.