Experts believe coronavirus mutations are not a problem for vaccine development

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According to Chinese experts, the genome of the new coronavirus is generally stable around the world, and current mutations in the virus will not affect the effectiveness or development of vaccines against COVID-19.

China Daily news agency, citing data from the journal Nature, reportsThere are nine COVID-19 candidate vaccines currently in Phase III clinical trials worldwide, with four experimental drugs developed in China. Yang Sheng, deputy director of the Drug Registration Bureau of the National Medicines Administration, said all four Chinese vaccines are being tested overseas, with foreign regulatory approvals.

The four drugs include three inactivated vaccines and one recombinant adenovirus vector vaccine, with Sheng added that seven more vaccines are in different stages of clinical trials in China.

Since the COVID-19 vaccine is an innovative product that requires sufficient preclinical and clinical data to verify its safety and efficacy, Chinese vaccine developers have been forced to begin the third stage of human trials abroad, as there are very few new cases of coronavirus infection in China itself. therefore, it is impossible to properly test experimental drugs for efficacy.

According to the expert, it is the third phase of large-scale clinical trials that will provide key information about the ability of the vaccine to protect against the virus while ensuring safety.

Zhang Xinmin, head of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development, said the vaccine developers are closely monitoring any mutations in the virus’s genome, and they have found that the virus is very uniform across the world.

“Virus mutations have no real impact on vaccine development”, – he said. This is because most vaccine candidates use the genetic material for the virus’s spike protein to trigger an immune response, and this ingredient is very stable, he added.

By the end of the year, China is expected to have the capacity to produce about 610 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine per year, and next year the production could reach 1 billion doses, he said. Zheng Zhongwei, head of the Chinese task force to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus.

However, it is unrealistic to expect that all people will be able to get vaccinated immediately after the drug is released to the market. The most vulnerable groups, including medical personnel, foreign workers, the elderly and children, should be given priority, officials say.

“Since vaccines are a public good, their price will certainly be within the acceptable range for the public,” Zhongwei said.

When asked about the strength and duration of protection for candidate vaccines, Chief Epidemiologist, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention Zeng Guang said the new coronavirus was discovered just nine months ago and there is still much to be learned about the virus.

“There is no proof yet that at least one of the vaccines is fully effective against COVID-19, and it is also not expected that most people will be vaccinated this winter or at least early next year,” – concluded the expert.

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