The China National Biotec Group Co. (CNBG) announced its commencing Phase 3 clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccines in both Peru and Morocco, declaring it’s commitment to helping people worldwide while fending off critiques of so-called vaccine diplomacy. CNBG is a subsidiary of Beijing-based, state-owned Sinopharm Group Co. (SINOPHARM). In the meantime, it would appear that a stratified market for COVID-19 vaccine candidates emerges with the richest GDP-based nations overwhelmingly selecting candidates from either America, the UK or Germany, despite the fact that China has produced a few of the leading contenders. Those products, should they be approved, will supply BRICs.
Chinese Vaccines Secure Phase 3 Host Countries
One of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates out of the Chinese developers, CNBG is actually part of a state-owned conglomerate called SINOPHARM. In a recent press release with a clear promotional bend toward China, the company announced that in addition to its Phase 3 trials, its competitor Sinovac launched Phase 3 studies in Brazil and Indonesia.
Now CNBG reports clinical trial certificates from the governments of Peru and Morocco were executed to promote the international Phase 3 clinical trial, reported Global Times. Additionally, SINOPHARM chairman Liu Jingzhen apparently commented at a Beijing commencement ceremony that the Chinese firm has secured arrangements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as well for Phase 3 studies.
Trial Sites for the Phase 3 Studies
In Peru, the randomized, double-blind testing placebo controlled trial will be conducted by both CNBG and research teams from Cayetano Heredia University and the National University of San Marcos. Meanwhile, in Morocco, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita praised the collaboration. No trial sites were shared with the Global Times.
The CNBG “inactivated” vaccine has been on the top of the World Health Organization’s top watchlist of COVID-19 vaccines.
As early as June, CNBG reported positive reports from their Phase 1/2 clinical trial, triggering solid neutralizing antibody reactions.
CNBG would need to conduct a number of formal studies, and the pandemic moved out of China early and into other nations. Bloomberg reported earlier in the summer that state-owned Chinese companies were offering the vaccine to employees as they traveled overseas.
Who is CNBG?
CNBG was formerly the Central Epidemic Prevention Department of Beiyang Government, directly under the leadership of the Ministry of Health after the founding of “New China.” Hence, it was a public sector spinoff into a large company known as SINOPHARM. Long recognized within the Chinese biotech sector for the ability to develop a sizable portfolio of life science products as well as operate significant manufacturing capacity, the company has integrated functions of R&D, production, sales and postgraduate training. CNBG presently has 11 secondary subsidiaries and 60 sub-secondary companies with over 10,000 employees.
With six primary business segments (human vaccines, blood products, medical aesthetics, animal healthcare, biotherapeutics and medical diagnostics), the company has the capacity to produce 50 kinds of human vaccines with an annual output of over 700 million doses. According to the company’s website, it supplies over 80% of the vaccines for the National Immunization Program of China.
In addition to holding subsidiaries in various segments, as mentioned above, the company employs over 1,000 in R&D and 1,100 in quality management.
The company’s parent, SINOPHARM, is a state-owned pharmaceutical company actually owned by Sinopharm Industrial Investment, a 51-49 joint venture of state-owned enterprise China National Pharmaceutical Group and civilian-run Fosun Pharmaceutical. Its shares are listed on the Hong Kong Exchange since 2009. Sinopharm Group was ranked 829th in the 2016 Forbes Global 2000 list.
TrialSite won’t speculate on such commentary, however this channel has been quite vocal about the unacceptable mixing of politics and health care. All governments are unfortunately culpable; however, in the case of China, an insidious example is the CanSino Biologics arrangement with Canada. As TrialSite reported, the company and prominent North American nation entered into an arrangement where the latter would supply the former with their vaccine called Ad5-nCoV. Since then, delays, more than likely due to escalating political tensions between Canada, the United States, and China, have led to delays in delivery of the investigational product to the vaccine center in Halifax, Canada. That led to Canada mobilizing a “Plan B.” This was unfortunate, and regardless of who is more culpable in the broader tensions, the takeaway from this incident continues to be: enter deals with Chinese companies with caution.
Vaccine Candidate Demand
Although TrialSite is hoping for multiple high quality, cost-effective vaccines for all the world’s people, the reality is that some of the more lucrative markets will go to Western concerns evidencing clear segmentation for vaccine candidate market capture. Of the top 10 world economies, Chinese vaccines will only have access to China and Brazil. The one opportunity to achieve a beachhead in a top 10 GDP nation (Canada) appears to have been squandered by politics. Note, there are strong market signals that Moderna will supply much of Europe as well, should that candidate ultimately be approved. Chinese and Russia vaccine candidates will be sequestered to low-to middle-market countries (LMCs) competing with global vaccine facilities, such as GAVI COVAX vaccine facility. Are these market results driven by politics alone or will the rich countries procure what they perceive to be the highest quality vaccine product?
|Country/by GDP||Economy||Example of Some Vaccine Deals|
|United States||$21.4 trillion||Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Novavax, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sanofi/GSK, J&J|
|China||$14.1 trillion||Sinovac, CNBG, CanSino Biologics|
|Japan||$5.5 trillion||Pfizer/BioNTech, Novavax (Takeda)|
|Germany||$3.86 trillion||CureVac (gov buys stake), AstraZeneca/Oxford|
|India||$2.94 trillion||Novavax, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Serum Inst. (makes different vaccines); Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila|
|United Kingdom||$2.83 trillion||Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sanofi/GSK, Novavax, J&J|
|France||$2.71 trillion||AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sanofi|
|Brazil||$1.85 trillion||AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sinovac|
|Canada||$1.73 trillion||Moderna, Pfizer/Biotech (probably will cancel CanSino Biologics deal)|
In the meantime, China’s position is that it seeks “a shared future for mankind proposed by Chinese leaders,” said Tao Lina, a vaccine and immunology expert, as reported to the Global Times. This spokesperson said China wasn’t interested in increasing influence but simply help rid the world of the epidemic. TrialSite suggests that like all countries and governments, there is good, bad, and ugly.
But the reality is that those countries with lots of highly educated and wealthy residents, not to mention the highest GDPs, ceteris paribus, will select vaccines from either America, the UK or Germany.
Call to Action: The key goal for all the world’s nations should be to collaborate as much as possible to rid the planet of COVID-19. That serves the best interests of all humans. World economy needs to commence at full throttle or dangerous economic contagion can lead to far worse situations.