China will begin to test a possible COVID-19 vaccine candidate produced by a Germany-based BioNTech firm, whose founder and CEO is Turkish scientist Ugur Sahin. 

According to Clinical Trials Arena, a website focused on reporting drug development and research process, China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) accepted an application submitted by Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical’s unit Fosun Pharmaceutical Industrial for a trial of COVID-19 vaccine candidate, BNT162b1.

“Fosun Pharma obtained license for the vaccine candidate from German company BioNTech to exclusively develop and commercialize the product in China,” the website reported.

“Based on BioNTech’s mRNA technology platform, the vaccine candidate is a prophylactic biological product intended to protect individuals aged 18 and above from Covid-19,” the report added.

The vaccine candidate is already undergoing COVID-19 clinical trials in Germany and the US.

Pfizer and BioNTech commenced the dosing of participants in a Phase I/II clinical trial assessing the BNT162 vaccine candidate to protect against Covid-19 in the US.

On July 2, Clinical Trials Arena reported that Pfizer and BioNTech reported positive preliminary results from the ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial of BNT162b1. 

Established in 2008 in Mainz, Germany, the BioNTech, is working to develop medicines for certain diseases, including cancer. 

In October 2019, the company offered its shares to the public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the US and raised an investment of $150 million. 

The company signed partnership agreements with American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Chinese Fosun Pharma to develop and produce the COVID-19 vaccine candidate

3-stage tests

In order for a vaccine to be widely used, it needs to be tested on humans in three stages.

In the first stage of clinical trials, scientists investigate whether the vaccine is safe and its possible side effects on a small number of volunteers. In the second stage, the effectiveness of the vaccine, whose reliability has been confirmed, is tested on more than 100 subjects.

In the third and final stage, the same process is repeated with several thousand subjects. This whole process can take months or even years. 

According to the World Health Organization, as of July 15, 23 candidate vaccines are in clinical evaluation and 140 candidate vaccines are in preclinical evaluation. 

The global pandemic claimed over 592,000 lives in 188 countries and regions since it has originated in China last December. The US, Brazil, Russia, and India are currently the worst-hit countries in the world. 

Nearly 13.89 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries exceeding 7.74 million, shows Johns Hopkins data.

*Writing by Handan Kazanci

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