Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm reached an annual production capacity of 7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses last month, as significant progress has been made in upgrading existing vaccines to tackle new variants and in developing vaccines of different technologies, the head of the company said on Sunday.
Liu Jingzhen, chairman of Sinopharm, said the company has "crossed the critical threshold "toward creating an mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus, and has completed early phases of clinical trials of a new protein-based COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, the company has completed research work on a broad-spectrum vaccine designed to protect against all known variants, he said during the Sustainable Development Forum 2021, which was held on Sunday in Beijing.
Sinopharm has already developed two inactivated COVID-19 vaccines that have been widely deployed around the world. Liu said the company has adapted its inactivated vaccines to the Beta and Delta variants.
He added that six research and production bases administered by Sinopharm in China have a combined annual manufacturing capacity of more than 7 billion doses, making the company capable of "satisfying global needs".
The company's COVID-19 vaccines have so far been given market approval in 10 other countries and have been authorized for emergency use or market access in 107 countries and regions, according to Liu.
To bolster the global fight against the disease and boost vaccine equity, the company signed an agreement in July with Gavi, formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, to provide 170 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to COVAX, the international initiative that distributes vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.
Liu said the company has also reached cooperation deals with the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, Morocco and Hungary to produce its vaccines locally. He added that Sinopharm is now in discussion with many countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Americas on building vial-filling and packaging plants there.
"When an acute outbreak hits the world, companies should mobilize themselves promptly, reach out and connect to other businesses and international organizations, so as to form a global network and play a unique and significant role in fighting the virus," he said.
During the event, health experts also emphasized the urgent need for the international community to unite to combat the pandemic.
Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, former director-general of the World Health Organization and dean of Tsinghua University's Vanke School of Public Health, said complacency and poor preparedness have resulted in the missing of an opportunity to contain the virus globally.
However, she said it is never too late for the world to work together by curbing misinformation and conspiracy theories, scaling up vaccine production and fair allocation, and respecting fairness and cultural diversity.
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of medical journal The Lancet, said that solidarity is not only a moral obligation, but also the key to ensuring human survival.
"The measure of our response to COVID-19 will be the extent to which we can take such a step toward solidarity," he said.