TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, one that was developed by the head of its Center for Disease Control, adding a fifth shot to its arsenal.
Gao Fu, the head of China's CDC, led the development of a protein subunit vaccine that was approved by regulators last week for emergency use, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microbiology said in a statement Monday.
The latest vaccine was developed jointly by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The team finished phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials in October and is currently conducting the last phase of trials in Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Indonesia, according to the statement.
China has been slow in vaccinating its population of 1.4 billion people, despite having four vaccines approved for general use. The latest numbers, according to government officials at a press briefing Monday in Beijing, is that it has administered 64.98 million doses of vaccines.
The approved vaccines have previously been limited to adults 18-59 years old, as officials cited a lack of clinical trial data for those who are older, although the government appears to be signaling the limits are now being set aside.
“We will promptly carry out mass vaccination of relevant populations,” Li Bin, a vice chair on the National Health Commission, said Monday.
China's official Xinhua News Agency reported over the weekend that in certain neighborhoods in Beijing, local health centers started to offer the vaccines to those aged 60 and older.
This story has been corrected to show that the vaccine trains the body to recognize the spike protein that covers the surface of the coronavirus, not the surface of the coronavirus vaccine.