A Study Claims China’s CNBG Vaccine Showing Promising Results in Clinical Tests

Researchers have claimed one of China’s key COVID-19 vaccine candidate, dubbed as BBIBP-CorV, was showing promising results of its clinical tests. The vaccine, developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG), was found to be safe and has been approved for emergency use in the country.

CNBG conducted Phase I and Phase II of the vaccine clinical tests, which involved more than 600 healthy participants, between April 29 and July 30 and the result showed that the vaccine triggered immune responses in a combined early and mid-stage test in humans. According to a paper published on Thursday, October 15, 2020, in the medical journal called the Lancet, the trial had not shown any severe side effects except common reactions such as mild fever.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), BBIBP-CorV is among the few coronavirus vaccine candidates across the globe that have entered the final phase for clinical trials. Among these at least 10 potential vaccines, four of them are led by Chinese scientists.

CNBG’s Vaccines

Although the researchers found that CNBG’s vaccine has shown a positive result, for now, it must complete its final Phase III trials, which is currently under the experiment outside China. However, the Chinese health department has approved the vaccine for an emergency inoculation program and started vaccination to essential workers and other limited groups of people facing high infection risk.

Researchers at the CNBG subsidiary, Chinese disease control authorities, and other research institutes said in the paper, two injections of BBIBP-CorV at three different doses generated antibodies in all recipients of each group, including older participants, although the data has yet to prove its efficiency. The tests result showed that antibody levels in recipients aged 60 and above took longer to increase significantly than those in younger participants.

In addition to BBIBP-CorV, CNBG, a unit of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), has another similar candidate being currently tested overseas in Phase III trials. Last month, a CNBG executive said that the two candidates were expected to get approval for the general use this year.

Vaccine’s Price and New Development

In another report by Reuters, a Chinese city has started offering Sinovac Biotech’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine to essential workers and other high-risk groups for emergency use with a cost of about $60. Jiaxin’s center for disease control and prevention (CDC) said in a statement that CoronaVac would cost 200 yuan ($29.75) per dose and that vaccinations for key groups including medical professionals have begun.

As per the report, Chinese authorities have not decided about the price of its potential COVID-19 vaccines. Sinopharm said in August that a vaccine candidate developed by its unit would not cost more than 1,000 yuan ($148.80) for two shots. An official at China’s National Health Commission has said, however, the price would be lower.

Sinovac Biotech stated that a preliminary result of the final phase of its vaccine, which are currently under the trials in Brazil, Indonesia, and Turkey, would be expected in early November. Meanwhile, many researchers are also examining if these potential vaccines could elicit and maintain cell-based immune responses, which could be a crucial factor if antibody-based immunity alone cannot contain the virus.