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First domestic mRNA COVID vaccine delivered

By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-16 09:19
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An elderly man in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, received a booster shot of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday. It was the first dose of the domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine based on messenger RNA technology to be delivered, according to its maker, CSPC Pharmaceutical Group.

Developed independently by the drugmaker in Shijiazhuang, the vaccine will be available across the country.

It has been given a priority recommendation as a booster shot for adults in the latest national plan for COVID-19 vaccinations, issued in April by the State Council's joint COVID-19 prevention and control mechanism.

"The mRNA vaccine can produce strong humoral immunity, cellular immunity and long-term immune memory, providing longer sustainable protection for those vaccinated," said Yang Hanyu, vice-chairman of the group, who is in charge of the company's research and development work on vaccines.

He added that the mRNA vaccine displays significant advantages in preventing severe illness and death caused by COVID-19.

It covers the core mutations of the Omicron variant and can protect against Omicron strains. In clinical trials, the booster dose proved effective at neutralizing Omicron subvariants BA.5, BF.7, BQ.1.1, XBB.1.5 and CH.1.1, according to the group.

In addition, researchers are able to quickly modify mRNA vaccines to target new strains.

"The production of mRNA vaccines does not require adjuvants, virus preparation or recombinant protein preparation, and can be done quickly as long as the virus' genetic sequence is known," Yang said.

According to the group, the vaccine was approved for emergency use by the National Medical Products Administration in March, and was granted clinical trial approval in April 2022.

The key raw materials and auxiliary materials used in the production of the mRNA vaccine are all produced by the company.

"The group is developing new generations of mRNA vaccines in order to counter mutated virus strains, and actively promote the development of other products based on mRNA technology," Yang said, adding that "mRNA technology has broad prospects, and great application in vaccine research and development."

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