China's Stemirna raises about $200 mln to fund COVID-19 vaccine development

BEIJING, June 3 (Reuters) - China's Stemirna Therapeutics said on Thursday it has raised nearly $200 million to finance clinical trials and production of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Stemirna's candidate, which uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology is due to enter a Phase II clinical trial soon and has been designed to be effective against variants spreading in South Africa, Brazil and India, Chief Executive Li Hangwen said in the statement.

A Stemirna spokesman said the firm is building two plants which would make the vaccine candidate, each with an annual capacity of 100 million doses, and construction could be completed by August.

The latest fund raising was led by investors including China Merchants Group's health sector investment arm, private equity fund Sequoia Capital China and pharmaceutical firm WuXi AppTec, Stemirna said.

Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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