Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine unit struggles to add new hires as holiday nears

3 minute read

A man works in the packaging facility of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, during a government-organized media tour in Beijing, China, September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Register now for FREE unlimited access to

BEIJING, Jan 21 (Reuters) - A Beijing unit of Sinovac Biotech (SVA.O) manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine said it is facing difficulties in finding staff to expand production because of surging local infections and the imminent Lunar New Year holiday.

Eleven people living in the Daxing district of the capital, Beijing, where Sinovac Life Science is based, were confirmed as COVID-19 patients between Sunday and Wednesday, forcing authorities to seal up some residential compounds and launch a mass testing scheme.

"Many people dare not go to Daxing district to apply for jobs, nor do people outside Beijing dare to come to the city to work," said Ma Hongbo, recruitment manager of Sinovac Life Science, in an article published by the Beijing Talent Market News, backed by the city's human resources authority.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to

This was making it even more difficult to recruit people as the holiday approaches, Ma was quoted as saying in the article published on Chinese social media platform WeChat on Thursday.

In China, millions travel back to their provinces to celebrate the Lunar New Year, this year in February and traditionally a quiet time for hiring.

The unit, which produces the CoronaVac vaccine, is looking to hire 980 new employees, including 100 production engineers, the article said.

Slower recruitment would not prevent the firm from reaching a target of an annual capacity of 1 billion doses by February, as production-related new hires are for a further capacity scale-up instead of the already planned one, Sinovac Biotech spokesman Liu Peicheng told Reuters.

The 1-billion-dose-by-Feburary target is for bulk production, while the company's capacity to put the vaccine into vials or syringes is smaller, Liu said.

Sinovac has outsourced some procedures of filling vials and syringes and finishing packing the vaccine to partners in Indonesia and Brazil, allowing it to export bulk materials to lower production costs.

Sinovac has agreed to export more than a combined 200 million doses, in the form of semi-finished bulk as well as finished products, to Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Chile and others. It has also shipped more than 7 million doses in China as of Jan 10.

Separately, Jointown Pharmaceutical Group (600998.SS), a Wuhan-based distributor of Sinovac's vaccine in China, said on Thursday it faced a shortage of 72 drivers but expected to fill vacancies by Jan 25, without specifying the cause or where the shortage occurred.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to
Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Nick Macfie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

More from Reuters