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Chinese Firm Starts Production of First Covid mRNA Vaccine

CanSino Biologics has begun making an mRNA booster that targets Covid Omicron variants, which are responsible for the majority of infections that have swept across China recently

CanSino Biologics is said to have begun test production of an mRNA vaccine, the first made in China.
A sign of China's vaccine specialist CanSino Biologics is seen at the group's headquarters in Tianjin, August 17, 2020. File photo: Thomas Peter, Reuters.


Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics has begun “test production” of an mRNA Covid-19 booster vaccine.

The company, based in Tianjin, announced the news in a post on its social media account late on Thursday.

The vaccine, known as CS-2034, targets new Omicron variants of the virus, which are responsible for the vast majority of infections that have swept across China since the country began dismantling its strict zero-Covid regime about a month ago.

Until now, China has relied on nine domestically-developed Covid vaccines approved for use, including inactivated vaccines, but none have been adapted to target the highly-transmissible Omicron variant and its offshoots that are currently in circulation.


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The CanSino booster vaccine is one of China’s first home-grown potential vaccines based on mRNA technology similar to that employed in vaccines produced internationally by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

On Thursday, CanSino also reported “positive” interim data from a mid-stage clinical trial in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

According to CanSino, the first phase of its mRNA vaccine production could produce 100 million doses.


Covid critics’ accounts shut

Meanwhile, in related news, China has taken down over 1,000 social media accounts, including some with millions of followers, who criticised the government’s Covid policies, according to a report by the BBC.

Social media platform Weibo said it had suspended or banned accounts for what it described as personal attacks against Chinese Covid specialists, it said.

The news is perhaps not surprising, given the abrupt end of the unpopular zero-Covid policies, which is allegedly to have caused a massive wave of Covid infections.

London-based health data company Airfinity claims 16,600 people – believed to be mainly elderly citizens and those with underlying health issues – are now dying of Covid in China each day.

“Airfinity is forecasting Covid-19 infections to reach their first peak in China on the 13th January with 3.7 million cases a day,” it said on December 29.

“Deaths are estimated to peak 10 days later at approximately 25,000 a day, by that stage a total of 584,000 since the virus began surging across the country in December.

“We predict 1.7 million deaths across China by the end of April 2023.”


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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