Money Management

China plans to offer experimental Covid vaccine to students going abroad

One of the leading vaccine developers in China is working on a plan to vaccinate students going abroad with Covid-19 injections who have not yet obtained regulatory approval, according to people familiar with the matter , as the country pushes the scientific boundaries in the race for a viable vaccination. .

China National Biotec Group Co., or CNBG, a subsidiary of state-owned Sinopharm Group Co, is in talks with the Chinese government to allow students going abroad to study its investigational vaccines, the people said. , who asked not to be identified as they are not authorized to speak publicly. Various government agencies are still working on the plan and no final decisions have been made, the people said.

The two plans developed by CNBG – which are still in the third final phase of testing – have been cleared for emergency use in China and have already been administered to hundreds of thousands of people there, including medical workers and government employees. owned companies working in high risk countries. The students would represent an unprecedented expansion in the use of vaccines that have not completed full human testing, although the Chinese regulator may determine the group may come under the jurisdiction of emergency use.

“This would in effect extend the emergency use permit granted beyond their intention,” said Nigel McMillan, director of the infectious diseases and immunology program at the Menzies Health Institute at Griffith University, in the Queensland. “While obviously very important to the families and students involved, studying abroad is not an emergency – no life is in danger here.”

CNBG did not respond to several calls and texts seeking comment, and the Chinese Ministry of Education did not respond to phone calls either.

Interest in vaccines

The students’ concern about leaving China, where the pathogen has been nearly eradicated through aggressive containment measures, for foreign countries where the coronavirus is still spreading rapidly has sparked discussion, people said. Infections in the United States and Europe are reappearing, while epidemics in South America and India show little sign of control.

CNBG appears to be trying to gauge the general public’s interest in its vaccine candidates, with a link on its website for people to apply for a vaccine. He asked for personal details and the city in which they wanted to receive the injection. More than 154,000 people had registered Tuesday morning in China, and a notice at the end of the registration form indicated that students going abroad could receive the vaccines for free. Later that day, the web link seemed to stop working.

The registration exercise is for planning purposes and no vaccine has yet been given to anyone who has registered, the people said.


Chinese vaccine developers have been at the forefront of the global race to create effective immunization against the virus, which has gained vital importance as countries seek to move beyond Covid-19 and fully reopen their savings. Vaccine development processes that typically take years have been squeezed into months in many places, encouraged by politicians who want a quick fix to the pandemic.

Western pioneers like Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Plc have temporarily halted their trials in recent months after unexplained illnesses in participants. Sinopharm said in September it had seen no adverse effects in test subjects who received its vaccines, which are in final stages of testing in the Middle East and South America.

In a briefing last month, Zheng Zhongwei, an official with China’s National Health Commission, said no serious adverse reactions had been recorded in the vaccines used in the emergency use program.

Drugs and vaccines that could end the coronavirus pandemic

Chinese media reported on Tuesday that students – among other groups – had been allowed to make appointments for CNBG vaccinations in the cities of Beijing and Wuhan.

Griffith’s McMillan said there are risks associated with administering untested subjects while testing is still ongoing. “I would say it’s not only unwarranted but also dangerous,” he said.

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