Mexico approves China's CanSino and Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has authorized emergency use of the Chinese Sinovac and CanSino COVID-19 vaccines, Mexico’s Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Wednesday.

Mexico’s vaccination drive has gotten off to a slow start, and officials in Latin America’s second-largest economy are hoping to source millions of doses from China to boost their efforts amid global vaccines shortages and delays.

Earlier in the day, China’s CanSino Biologics Inc said its COVID-19 vaccine was approved in Mexico for emergency use in people 18 and older.

Lopez-Gatell confirmed CanSino’s approval in a news conference and added that “the emergency use authorization has already been granted, also for Sinovac or CoronaVac”.

CoronaVac is the name of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, widely tested in Brazil, which has ordered about 100 million doses of the vaccine.

The CoronaVac vaccine had efficacy of just over 50% in the Brazilian trial, well below other choices on the market. But it is easier to store and transport, and Mexico is eager to diversify its vaccine supply.

On Monday, Pakistan said CanSino Bio’s vaccine showed 65.7% efficacy in preventing symptomatic cases and a 90.98% success rate in stopping severe disease in an interim analysis of global trials.

Mexico is one of the countries testing the CanSino vaccine and has a supply deal with company. It is also being tested in Russia, Argentina and Chile, clinical trial registration data showed.

The vaccine - which was approved for use in the Chinese military last year and has since been given to at least 40,000-50,000 people - uses a modified common cold virus known as adenovirus type-5 (Ad5) to carry genetic material from the coronavirus protein into the body.

Reporting by Adriana Barrera in Mexico City, Sayantani Ghosh in Singapore and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Edmund Blair, Jason Neely and Gerry Doyle