Chinese companies have drawn attention for giving experimental COVID-19 vaccines to their executives and leading researchers before human trials to test their safety and efficacy had even begun, reported The Japan Times. In recent months, they have injected a far larger number under an emergency-use designation approved in June, and that number appears poised to rise, the news source said.
A Chinese health official said that China needs to take steps to prevent the disease from coming back, but one outside expert questioned the need for emergency use when the virus is no longer spreading in the country where it was first detected.
State-owned Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG said it has given the vaccine to 350,000 people outside its clinical trials, which have about 40,000 people enrolled, a company executive said recently. Now, large Chinese firms including Huawei and broadcaster Phoenix TV have announced they are working with Sinopharm to get the vaccine for their employees.
Several people who say they work in "front-line" organizations have said on social media that their workplaces have offered vaccinations for about CNY 1000 ($150). They declined to comment, saying they would need permission from their organization.
Meanwhile, SinoVac has injected 90% of its employees and family members, or about 3000 people, most under the emergency-use provision, CEO Yin Weidong said. It has also provided tens of thousands of rounds of its CoronaVac to the Beijing city government. Another candidate being jointly developed by the military and CanSino Biologics has been approved for emergency-use in military personnel.
The Chinese government referenced the World Health Organization's emergency-use principles to create its own through a strict process, National Health Commission official Zheng Zhongwei said last week. "We've made it very clear that the COVID-19 vaccine we put into emergency use are safe," Zheng remarked, adding "their safety can be ensured, but their efficacy is yet to be determined."