A coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company SinoVac will be ready for worldwide distribution by early next year, its CEO said Thursday.
The vaccine, dubbed CoronaVac, is one of four in China that is still undergoing a third and final round of testing, a global standard necessary before it can be widely distributed.
But if SinoVac’s vaccine makes it through Phase 3 of clinical trials, CEO Yin Weidong said he will apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell it in the United States.
“At the very beginning, our strategy was designed for China and for Wuhan. Soon after that in June and July, we adjusted our strategy,” he said Thursday, according to the Associated Press. “Our goal is to provide the vaccine to the world.”
His comments underscore the key geopolitical role the vaccine may play for China in the coming months. As major powers race to curb the global pandemic and the economic devastation it has wrought, the vaccine could serve as a potentially valuable diplomatic tool to extend global influence.
As The Washington Post’s Eva Dou and Isabelle Khurshudyan reported, strict regulations in the United States have often prevented the distribution of Chinese vaccines, and health-care experts have warned about the potentially disastrous risks of rushing the approval process.
Although the vaccine is still in Phase 3, SinoVac has already injected thousands of people in China — from front-line health workers to state employees to Yin himself — under an emergency use provision, without meeting the global standard to ensure that rare but severe side effects do not present themselves.
Thousands of people in Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia have also been administered CoronaVac in clinical trials, the AP reported, and the company says it will be able to produce a few hundred million doses of the vaccine by spring.