As countries begin with COVID-19 vaccinations and continue to procure doses, China is preparing for mass production of its vaccine candidates undergoing final stage clinical trials, an official at the National Health Commission said on Thursday.

China, which granted emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccines in June, is making huge strides in their development. According to Zheng Zhongwei, the country has entered the “final sprint,” with 15 vaccines undergoing clinical trials, of which five are in their phase 3 stage.

“Since the epidemic has been effectively controlled in China, the country does not have the conditions to carry out phase 3 clinical trials. These are being carried out overseas,” he told Xinhua news agency.

The vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials include two candidates by Sinopharm, and Sinovac.

Zheng said the studies are undergoing “scientific reviews and approval in strict accordance with laws, regulations and internationally recognized technical standards to ensure the vaccines are safe, effective and can stand the test of time.”

While Indonesia received the first batch of Sinovac vaccines earlier this month, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have approved the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine. Turkey, Brazil and Singapore have also signed advanced purchase agreements with Sinovac.

This comes as a team of the World Health Organization plans to travel to Wuhan, China, where the novel virus was first detected last December.

“Cooperation is progressing smoothly. China is ready to strengthen cooperation with the WHO to advance the global work on hunting the virus’ origin,” the spokesman said.

Fabian Leendertz, a member of the WHO’s 10-member team, told the state-run Global Times newspaper that team members “may go to China and will visit Wuhan, although detailed arrangements such as specific dates, an exact plan and whether they will visit more Chinese cities are being discussed.”

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