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China's Sinovac starts production of COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Compatriot CanSino also rushes for mass output as clinical trials continue

Students in Indonesia wear protective face masks. Sinovac has agreed to supply 40 million doses to an Indonesian state-owned company.   © Reuters

DALIAN, China -- Sinovac Biotech has begun manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine candidate on a pilot basis, as China shifts toward the mass production stage in the global immunization race.

Production has started at a new plant in Beijing with an annual capacity of roughly 300 million doses. Sinovac has agreed to supply 40 million doses to Bio Farma, an Indonesian state-owned company, between November and March. Sinovac started building the factory in late March and finished the project in July.

The Chinese company began Phase 3 clinical trials for its vaccine candidate in Indonesia this month and in Brazil during July.

Fellow Chinese drugmaker CanSino Biologics will build a plant for its coronavirus vaccine candidate next to an existing factory in the city of Tianjin. The facility is slated to begin operation next year with an annual capacity of 100 million to 200 million doses.

CanSino plans to conduct final vaccine trials in Canada and Saudi Arabia, but the company has not revealed a timeline for commercialization. The existing factory houses the development and production of other vaccines.

On Aug. 13, CanSino listed on the STAR market, Shanghai's tech-heavy bourse, raising about 5.2 billion yuan ($754 million) from the float. Part of the proceeds will go into capital expenditures. CanSino also trades in Hong Kong.

CanSino won a vaccine patent from Chinese authorities on Aug. 11, becoming the first to do so in China.

The World Health Organization says 31 vaccine candidates are undergoing clinical trials. Along with Chinese developers, U.S.-based Moderna and British partners AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford are advancing with testing.

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