İrem UZUN -TDO- China’s health authorities have approved a COVID-19 vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm for general use on the population, the government has announced. At a press conference in Beijing a state taskforce announced the vaccine had exceeded World Health Organization standards and would help establish effective immunity in China.

The approval comes a day after Sinopharm said the vaccine is 79.34% effective, citing interim analysis of Phase 3 clinical trials. Though no detailed efficacy data for the vaccine has been released, the decision to grant approval underscores claims made by Chinese officials in recent weeks over the safety and effectiveness of the country's domestically produced vaccine candidates.

China is aiming to inoculate 50 million people with domestic COVID-19 vaccines ahead of February's Lunar New Year celebrations. It has also drastically scaled up its vaccine emergency use program in recent weeks. Zheng Zhongwei, head of the vaccine research and development working group, said the vaccine was a public good and the cost of production was “the only basis for pricing”. Zeng then added that the vaccine “must be provided free of charge for all people”, and state media subsequently reported that the vaccine will be free.

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