The construction of a dedicated manufacturing base for coronavirus vaccines has begun in eastern China.
The plant, with an investment of 550million yuan, is set to start mass-producing anti-coronavirus injections as early as next March, according to local officials.
China’s disease-control officials have claimed that the first Covid-19 vaccine could be ready in the country this autumn.
Beijing is carrying out clinical trials for at least five coronavirus immunisation candidates, three of which had entered their second round of clinical research by June 19, according to a government notice.
President Xi in May pledged to make the country’s coronavirus vaccines ‘a global public good’ as he sought to defuse global criticism over Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.
The new Covid-19 vaccine factory is situated in a free-trade zone in the city of Ningbo in Zhejiang province. It is run by Beijing-based vaccine group AIM.
The ground-breaking ceremony took place on Saturday. Ningbo authorities expected the production lines to be put into use as early as next March, said a social media post from the local government.
The plant will specialise in developing and producing inactivated coronavirus vaccines. Such immunisation products use the killed version of the germ that causes the disease to stimulate human bodies to create antibodies.
The plant is part of a larger vaccine manufacturing base, which boasts an investment of 2.5billion yuan (£283million) in total. It is also set to produce rabies and genetic vaccines and will be constructed in three phases.
The first phase includes the coronavirus vaccine plant as well as an £85million factory for rabies vaccines.
China’s top coronavirus expert, Dr Zhong Nanshan, claimed last month that the country’s first COVID-19 vaccines could be ready to use as early as autumn.