Sinopharm Unit Gets OK for Clinical Trials of mRNA COVID Vaccine

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BEIJING, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Sinopharm said on Friday its biotech unit has received regulatory approval for clinical trials of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron variant.

The unit, based in the commercial hub of Shanghai, has built a research and development platform, as well as workshops with annual production capacity of 2 billion doses of mRNA vaccine, Sinopharm said.

Sinopharm, now the China distributor of Merck & Co’s COVID-19 antiviral treatment molnupiravir, said its biotech unit received clinical trial approval from the National Medical Products Administration.

Several homegrown mRNA candidates are being studied in China but none has been approved for use. Sinopharm unit China National Biotec Group Co Ltd said it had designed an mRNA candidate targeting the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The news comes a week after Merck’s molnupiravir was launched in the Chinese market. Merck had said Sinopharm was the only legally authorised distributor of the treatment in China, sold under the brand name Lagevrio.

Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Subhranshu Sahu

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