Chinese Vaccines for Southeast Asia

Two days ago, I announced that China would provide Cambodia with 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines,” wrote Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen in a January 17 Facebook post. “To boost confidence in the vaccine, I declare that I will be the first to be vaccinated in Cambodia. I must be at the forefront of this campaign.”

Ready to Step Up

The office building of Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co., Ltd. (BJIBP) under China National Biotec Group (CNBG) in Beijing’s southeastern outskirts was still brightly lit at 9:00 p.m. on December 25, 2020. Dong Jianchun, head of engineering support, his deputy Shi Wei, and technical team leader Zhang Yu were feverishly pouring over a design plan for the company’s second production facility for the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine. They were checking implementation details related to the project as construction work entered the final stage and testing of production equipment was about to commence.

Pioneers of Covid-19 Vaccine Development

On a hot morning in July 2020, Liang Hongyang, deputy director of the No. 6 Vaccine Office of the Beijing Institute of Biological Products (BJIBP) under China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a subsidiary of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), rushed into the lab working on the COVID-19 vaccine. When he left the BJIBP building, Liang saw tents were pitched and people were waiting in a long queue to get vaccinated. He overheard someone say, “I finally feel safe after getting vaccinated.”

Vaccination Mission

The last day of 2020 marked a milestone in the research and development of inactivated vaccines to fight COVID-19 in China. At a December 31 press conference organized by the State Council Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism Against COVID-19, the National Medical Products Administration announced that it granted conditional emergency usage authorization for an inactivated vaccine for COVID-19 developed by Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co., Ltd. (BJIBP), a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG) under China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). It was the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use in China.

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