The ambitious anti-Covid vaccination plan in China tests the production capacity of the Chinese Sinopharm, Sinovac and Cansino. Reuters
Insights China aims to vaccinate at least half a billion of its population against COVID-19 in four months, a challenge that will test the country’s formidable industrial power.
Reuters calculations indicate that China could increase its ability to vaccinate the world’s largest population and hundreds of millions of people in dozens of countries from Africa to Latin America enough.
But little is known about how fully the three approved domestic producers are using their capacity – a lack of information that leaves a huge question mark on global efforts to end the pandemic that began in central China.
“It is important for the public to have an understanding of what the government is doing, what private industry is doing, how fast or slowly they are doing,” said US researcher Jennifer Pancorbo.
More accurate production figures that help people understand whether the shots will be available in May or July will affect how people plan their return to normal life, said Pancorbo, director of industrial programs and research at North Carolina. State University’s Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center.
China started early, calling for emergency vaccine use authorization in July. But it has inoculated less than 4% of its population, far behind countries like Israel, Britain and the United States, as it has mainly focused on preventing transmission.
Now Beijing is shifting gears, aiming to vaccinate 40% of its 1.4 billion people by the end of June.
With 65 million doses administered as of Sunday, China needs an average of around 4 million injections per day to achieve this goal.
Statements from vaccine developers suggest manufacturers could reach an annual capacity of 3.6 billion doses by the end of the year, according to Reuters calculations: 3.1 billion doses of the three approved vaccines that require double injections and 500 million single doses.
This would be enough to vaccinate the entire Chinese population and to honor its commitment to supply at least 463 million doses overseas through donations and exports.
But none of the approved vaccine manufacturers – China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) or Sinovac Biotech Ltd – have detailed how many doses they are producing after their latest scale-up.
“Chinese vaccine manufacturers are still expanding, and with the continued release of production capacity, output will gradually increase,” Tian Yulong, an official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told a news conference on Monday. .
He refused to disclose China’s vaccine production rate or supply levels when asked by Reuters.
Even if they have enough ready capacity, if there were disruptions in the supply of raw materials and key components, they likely couldn’t get their factories running at full speed, experts warn. HARD TO FORECAST
“All the vials, the boxes, the syringes, the needles, all that stuff, where does it come from,
” said Harris Makatsoris, professor of sustainable manufacturing systems at King’s College London, “The demand and these companies have sufficient, because they serve the internal market as well as the global market

Sinovac said in early February that its ability to make finished products lags behind its mass production capability, but overseas partners could help fill the bulk vaccine into vials and syringes.
A spokesperson for Sinovac told Reuters he does not expect a shortage of vials and would be able to quickly expand production if China or other countries accept a larger vial that can hold more doses of his vaccine.
Unlike AstraZeneca PLC, which puts 10 doses in one vial and Pfizer Inc, which uses five, Sinovac uses a single dose vial or syringe.
Sinopharm and CanSinoBIO did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Gao Fu, head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, thinks China has enough manufacturing capacity to achieve its goals, but warns that translating that capacity into products that meet standards is complicated.
“Companies have consistently overestimated their ability to manufacture and deliver vaccines,” in part because the lack of information makes it difficult to estimate supply, said Jerome Kim, director general of the International Vaccine Institute.
(Extract from the press review of Eprcomunicazione)

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