China IMCAS's COVID-19 vaccine obtained emergency use approval in China

BEIJING, March 15 (Reuters) - A COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Institute of Microbiology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IMCAS) has obtained the greenlight for emergency use in China, the institute said on Monday, marking the country’s fifth vaccine eligible for some scale of use.

The ZF2001 vaccine, being tested in a late-stage clinical trial aiming to recruit 29,000 participants across China, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ecuador, has been approved for use in Uzbekistan earlier this month.

China’s vaccine administration law allows emergency use “within certain scope and time limit” of vaccines amid major health crisis. Among the four vaccines China has approved for general public use, three had been approved for small-scale emergency vaccination before gaining clearance for inoculating the wider public.

IMCAS’s statement did not specify which specific groups will have access to the vaccine.

The vaccine, which is jointly developed by IMCAS and a unit of Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products, was found to be safe and triggered immune responses in early and mid-stage human tests, according to a paper published last year ahead of peer review.

China, which has been accelerating efforts to vaccinate its population against COVID-19, had administered about 65 million doses as of Sunday.

The country is yet to approve a vaccine developed by foreign companies. (Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo, editing by Louise Heavens)