A Chinese drugmaker, which is collaborating with AstraZeneca PLC on production of a coronavirus vaccine, has won approval from Chinese regulators to start testing one of its own vaccine candidates at home.
Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co., one of the world’s largest producers of hepatitis B vaccines, said Tuesday in a stock-exchange filing it will begin testing its coronavirus vaccine candidate on people immediately, after it was found to protect mice and monkeys from the new virus.
The company, based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, didn’t say where it would conduct the trials. Because China has largely brought the virus under control at home, its drugmakers have had to venture to other countries where coronavirus is still a problem to run larger scale advanced clinical trials. Their initial trials to test for safety, however, have generally taken place in China.
Shenzhen Kangtai also said it has already built a new facility for producing the vaccine, for which it will seek separate regulatory certification.
Dozens of drugmakers and medical institutions around the world are running human clinical tests on 40 Covid-19 vaccine candidates, according to the World Health Organization, in a global effort to fight a pandemic that has now killed more than one million people.
Chinese institutions are behind many of those experimental vaccines and are responsible for four of the 10 candidates in the final stages of testing.
At the same time, Beijing has overseen an unorthodox campaign to inject members of its military—as well as hundreds of thousands of employees of state-owned enterprises, journalists and other people—with homegrown vaccine candidates before their clinical trials are complete.
In August, the Cambridge, U.K.-based AstraZeneca and Shenzhen Kangtai said they would produce at least 200 million doses of the British drugmaker’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine for the Chinese market by the end of 2021.
Shenzhen Kangtai aims to finish building a facility to produce AstraZeneca’s vaccine by the end of the year, according to Tuesday’s filing.
AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine candidate is based on a relatively new technique known as an adenovirus vector, which acts as a carrier for the portion of the vaccine intended to trigger an immune response against the coronavirus.
The separate Covid-19 vaccine candidate for which Shenzhen Kangtai recently won Chinese regulatory approval is based on a more-established method of producing vaccines. It involves growing viruses in petri dishes and then weakening them for use on humans.
Such so-called inactivated vaccines are similar to three Chinese candidates the government approved for domestic emergency use beginning in July. Chinese drugmakers have made less headway compared with their Western peers in more-advanced methods drawing upon genetics technology.
—Raffaele Huang contributed to this article.
Write to Chao Deng at [email protected]
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