Chinese Covid-19 vaccine could be produced in South Africa

The Numolux Group is in talks with Chinese company Sinovac to produce their Covid-19 vaccine within South African borders, Reuters reported.

The news comes after Numolux chief executive Hilton Klein announced yesterday that Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccine would be trialed in South African children as part of a global trial.

“This clinical trial is a precursor to the establishment of a South African vaccine manufacturing facility partnered by Sinovac and Numolux Group that will cover the entire spectrum of vaccinations beyond just the Covid-19 response,” Klein said.

“We are in talks with Sinovac to set up a vaccine manufacturing facility. A phase 1 will do bottling and labelling so that we can get vaccines out to the people of Africa as soon as possible.”

The South African leg of the trial will see 2,000 children and adolescents enrolled to establish the efficacy, immunogenicity and, safety of the Coronavac vaccine on children aged six months and older.

Currently, only those ages 18 and above are eligible to be vaccinated.

According to South Africa’s latest vaccine statistics, 7 million people (17.6% of adults) in the country have been fully vaccinated.

Media Hack’s vaccine calculator suggests that at the current rate of 179,269 vaccines per day, it will take one year, one month, and 17 days for South Africa to vaccinate 67% of its population.

Trial begins

Sinovac Biotech Ltd. is starting a Covid-19 vaccine trial in infants, children and adolescents in South Africa as part of a global study.

The phase 3 study will evaluate the efficacy, safety and immune response of CoronaVac in people between the ages of six months and 17 years, with 14,000 participants enrolled in countries including Chile, the Philippines, Malaysia and Kenya. About 2,000 will be from South Africa.

The vaccine uses “conventional technology, similar to your polio virus and other childhood vaccines,” Sanet Aspinall, chief virologist and head of the South African study, said by phone Friday. “The safety profile of this particular vaccine is extremely good.”

South African regulators approved Sinovac’s double-dose vaccine candidate in July, with conditions including results of ongoing studies and periodic safety updates. Indicated for people between the ages of 18 and 59 years, it’s the first shot developed for the disease by a Chinese company to be sanctioned domestically. The World Health Organization has also given the shot an emergency-use listing.

The CoronaVac shot “may be a nice vaccine for children” because while it may not be as effective as other candidates, “it’s quite safe,” said Glenda Gray, who is co-lead of another South African trial using Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in health care workers.

Sinovac has proven to be less effective in preventing infection and more costly than mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer Inc.’s version. Still, a study published in the Lancet in June said that the Sinovac vaccine was safe and effective in children as young as three years old.

Earlier this week, the Chilean government approved the Sinovac shot for use on children aged six and higher, making it the first shot approved for those younger than 12 years old.

Reporting with Bloomberg

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Chinese Covid-19 vaccine could be produced in South Africa