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China approves human COVID-19 vaccine tests; US not worried about China winning the race

China approves human COVID-19 vaccine tests; US not worried about China winning the race

China has approved an early-stage trial in humans of German firm BioNTech's experimental COVID-19 vaccine says its local partner Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical.

China approves human COVID-19 vaccine tests; US not worried about China winning the race

The potential vaccine is one of the two most advanced candidates that BioNTech is working on with its partner Pfizer Inc and they received “fast track” status this week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which is designed to speed up the regulatory review process.

Fosun Pharma said in a filing that a unit will initiate a Phase I clinical trial of BNT162b1 “as soon as possible once it is ready”.

It is licensed to exclusively develop and commercialise COVID-19 vaccine products developed by using BioNTech’s mRNA technology in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

 Al Drago/Pool via REUTERS

The leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci (above), predicted on Wednesday the country will meet its goal of a coronavirus vaccine by year’s end and was unmoved by the prospect that China would get there first.

While there are no guarantees, “I feel good about the projected timetable,” Fauci told Reuters in an interview.

COVID-19 vaccine tested on humans 

The candidate is one of at least 23 being tested on humans in a frantic global race to find a vaccine the world is counting on to end a pandemic that has infected more than 13 million people and killed more than half a million.

Prior to the latest approval, Chinese researchers and companies have moved eight vaccine candidates into different phases of human trials at home and abroad.

Fosun Pharma agreed in March to pay up to $85 million in licensing fees to use BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and invest $50 million for a stake in the German firm.

Many experts see a safe and effective vaccine as the only way out of the pandemic that has infected millions and killed more than 575,000 people worldwide.

Reuters (Reporting by Roxanne Liu in Beijing and Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Edwina Gibbs)

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