- Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm on Tuesday applied to the country’s health regulators to launch its COVID-19 vaccines for public use, based on multiple news reports.
- However, close to a million people have already been injected with experimental shots since the Chinese government authorized the vaccines for emergency use in July.
- The rush to access these experimental shots has spurred fears of a booming black market for vaccines, Bloomberg News reported.
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Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm on Tuesday sought government approval to officially bring its coronavirus vaccines to market, but close to a million people have already been injected with experimental shots under the government’s emergency use program, according to multiple reports.
The latest rush to get inoculated with Sinopharm’s emergency shots has left some worried about the formation of a black market for vaccines, per Bloomberg News.
As vaccine developers in Western countries prepare for the global distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, Sinopharm said it has been testing the safety and efficacy of its two inactivated coronavirus vaccines. However, it has yet to release any public data regarding the vaccines’ efficacy in their phase-three trials.
That has not stopped some people from seeking out the vaccine, which is meant for frontline workers.
One anonymous source told Bloomberg that he paid $91 for two doses of what he believed to be a Sinopharm vaccine.
“You just transfer him the money via Alipay, but he won’t tell you the details because apparently it’s black market,” the source told Bloomberg, referring to the digital payments app run by Alibaba.
Sinopharm’s application to officially launch its vaccines came after Pfizer and Moderna’s recent announcements that their vaccines were 95% and 94.5% effective, respectively.
AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford had announced that their two-dose vaccine could be up to 90% effective, but an error in the trial has cast doubt on its efficacy rate. AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot on Thursday said the company will likely retest its COVID-19 vaccine.
The rush to secure Sinopharm vaccines in China sheds light on the potential challenges of ensuring equitable and transparent distribution of coronavirus vaccines across the globe.
People who have successfully accessed the experimental Sinopharm vaccines in China are usually those who have privileged connections and want protection before traveling.
Staff in government ministries and state-owned companies as well as bank employees have encountered low barriers to becoming vaccinated, according to Bloomberg.
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