The Wuhan Institute of Biological Products-made COVID-19 vaccine has entered phase II clinical trials, the parent company China National Biological Group (CNBG) (中国生物) announced. The development makes it the third candidate in the second phase of the global vaccine development race against the pervasive coronavirus after the University of Oxford's and CanSino Biological's (6185:HKEX) clinical-stage candidates.
The information was first found in The Voice of China's (中国之声) Weibo account on March 24, citing the parent company CNBG, which is 95% owned by Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm (国药) (1099:HKEX). The breakthrough has yet to be confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO's clinical trial list – the trailblazers that led the global race so far – includes four more vaccines in phase I, developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO:NASDAQ), China's Sinovac (SVA:NASDAQ) and Moderna (MRNA:NASDAQ). The Wuhan Institute of Biological Product's vaccine is still marked as being in phase I as well in WHO's system.
In total, WHO announced six vaccines in clinical trials and 77 candidates in the preclinical evaluation, as of March 24.
The Wuhan Institute of Biological Product's vaccine is defined as "a randomized, double-blind, placebo parallel-controlled phase I/II clinical trial for inactivated Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia vaccine (Vero cells)" in the database of Chinese Clinical Trial Registry system and last updated on March 13.
China, the country that was hit by the novel coronavirus first, is now leading the race; China has more COVID-19 vaccine candidates approved for human testing than any other country in the world. The developments also bring questions about whether the country's nascent and latecomer vaccine makers will be able to provide a mass-produced vaccine to ease the largest public health crisis in the last century.