Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine To Be Released This Year

courtesy of university of wharton

When humanity looks back at 2020 in the annals of history one day, many events will stand out. However, it is mainly to be remembered as the year we beat the COVID-19 pandemic. This mysterious, elusive and unexpected coronavirus has all but crippled the world’s healthcare and economies. After nearly 8 months under the grip of the virus, a COVID-19 vaccine may finally be on the horizon.

A Chinese pharmaceutical company, SinoPharm, has now announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is being developed. What’s more, the release for commercial markets is surprisingly near.

SinoPharm has partnered with the UAE for developing the COVID-19 vaccine

While SinoPharm is not the only entity on a quest to develop a vaccine in the world, it is remarkably open about it. The company has collaborated with the United Arab Emirates technology company G42 Healthcare. Both the Abu Dhabi government and SEHA (the Abu Dhabi Health Services) will oversee this.

They reached out to the UAE in particular because of the nation’s emergent scientific advancements and diverse backgrounds. This was out of over 200 prospective partnering entities, carefully examined. The status of the vaccine is reportedly in Phase-III now, which shows good progress.

The vaccine should release soon, and won’t be overpriced

The biggest concern about a theoretical vaccine since the start of the pandemic has been harrowing. To add to conspiracy theories about the origins of SARS-CoV 2 (which amount to open sinophobia), the eventual vaccine frightened many too. Widespread concerns about it included affordability for the masses, its side effects, and the efficacy.

However, the chairman of SinoPharm himself allayed these fears. Liu Jingzhen openly announced two new important details about the upcoming inoculation. The first is that the estimated time of arrival isn’t too far off. It should be ready to release by this year at the latest. Secondly, and arguably most importantly, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be prohibitively expensive to the average person.

This COVID-19 vaccine isn’t fully reliable, however

SinoPharm, along with other unscrupulous ‘Big Pharma’ companies, cannot be totally trusted. While all pharmaceutical companies prioritize profit over global health (why else would they be charging large sums for life-saving drugs?), this one is shadier. It is only slightly reassuring that Jingzhen himself has claimed to have received the inoculation. Furthermore, he still stated it would cost somewhere close to 1000 yuan ($145) which is still not affordable for many.

Increasingly, Chinese pharmaceutical companies are all investing in coronavirus vaccines and drugs, but they all make big claims. It doesn’t help that the Chinese Communist Party, a regime known for its propaganda tactics, makes spurious claims of “curing” the disease and achieving total immunity. The CCP openly backs companies like SinoPharm. Furthermore, the absence of impartial regulating bodies (like the US’s FDA) makes safety guidelines non-existent.

All in all, if SinoPharm or the several other competitors in China or worldwide truly can procure a COVID-19 vaccine this year, then it will be a game-changer. As SinoPharm itself notes, not every single person will need a vaccine immediately (the production cap itself is only 220 million injections). Instead, only workers, schoolchildren, and workplace professionals would need it the right way to resume their respective occupancies.

There are still a few months before these vaccines are scheduled to roll-out. In that time, if a better, safer, and more trustworthy alternative is available, it may be wiser to opt for that instead.

Raamiz Naeem: