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China expands testing to 18 nations in vaccine charm offensive

Beijing targets Belt and Road countries but safety concerns persist

A COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Sinovac Biotech. Three Chinese companies are now conducting Phase 3 trials abroad.   © Reuters

DALIAN/BEIJING -- China is on track to conduct final clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine in 18 countries by the end of the year, bolstering its vaccine diplomacy in emerging economies that are struggling to contain the virus.

With new cases falling at home, Chinese drugmakers are looking abroad to hold Phase 3 trials, which test a drug's efficacy and safety on massive scale. Nine countries, many of which participate in Beijing's Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative, are now participating in such trials, with the number expected to double before the end of the year.

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