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The first coronavirus vaccine was just approved for use in one country

  • A coronavirus vaccine candidate that showed promise in the early stages of clinical trials has been approved for use with China’s military.
  • Ad5-nCoV is one of China’s vaccine candidates approved for human trials that cleared Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials before receiving emergency approval for use on military personnel.
  • It’s unclear how many people will get the drug, and whether military vaccination will be mandatory or optional.

A report said a few days ago that a vaccine candidate from the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) was being offered to state employees traveling overseas. The program was expanded to workers living in Beijing after authorities discovered a new outbreak in the capital. CNBG has multiple experimental coronavirus vaccine candidates, and at least one of the drugs cleared Phase 2 of human trials successfully. But Chinese companies have several vaccine candidates for COVID-19 in advanced testing, and a new report reveals that a different drug has received approval for military use. This appears to be the first coronavirus vaccine to be made widely available to a segment of a population before finishing Phase 3 trials.

The Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate appeared in reports in mid-May when CanSino published the results of Phase 1 testing. The drug has now received approval to be used by China’s military. Ad5-nCoV has been developed by the military’s research unit and CanSino Biologics, according to Reuters. The drug proved to be safe and showed some efficacy in clinical trials, according to the company. Phase 1 and 2 of the drug trial have already been completed.

Ad5-nCoV is one of China’s eight vaccine candidates approved for human trials in China and abroad, and it has also been approved for testing in Canada. Now, China’s Central Military Commission has approved the use of the drug by the military on June 25th for one year. “The Ad5-nCoV is currently limited to military use only, and its use cannot be expanded to a broader vaccination range without the approval of the Logistics Support Department,” CanSino said.

The company did not reveal to Reuters whether the inoculation of the vaccine candidate is mandatory or optional, citing commercial secrets. Also, it’s unclear what production capacity CanSino has for the experimental drug.

Chinese officials have previously said the country is considering using vaccine candidates by the end of the year, even before the final results of clinical trials are ready. Phase 3 trials must include thousands of volunteers, but China doesn’t have enough COVID-19 patients and carriers to study the effectiveness of vaccines. Like CanSino’s experimental drug, other candidates will be tested abroad.

Many vaccine makers that are in advanced testing in the US and other countries said their drugs might be ready for emergency use this fall or winter. But they would have to complete Phase 3 trials before any candidates would be approved. Of note, analysts expect the Trump administration to approve the first COVID-19 vaccines ahead of the November election.

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