China's Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine safe for children and teenagers, says state media

BEIJING (REUTERS) – A Covid-19 vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a Sinopharm subsidiary, is safe in those aged between three and 17, based on clinical data obtained by the company, state media reported on Friday.

“It should be noted that for three to five-year-old children, because their immune system is still developing, they must be carefully and closely monitored during vaccination,”CNBG chairman Yang Xiaoming told Xinhua, without providing further details.

CNBG has two Covid-19 vaccines in Phase 3 clinical trials, both of which have been authorised for emergency use and are being given to limited priority groups at high risk of infection.

A Sinovac Biotech Covid-19 candidate has also been authorised for emergency use.

The vaccine being developed by CNBG’s Beijing unit was the first in China to be approved for general public use in late December.

It was not immediately clear which CNBG vaccine Mr Yang was referring to in his comments about clinical trials on children and teenagers.

Sinopharm and CNBG were not immediately available for comment.

The CNBG vaccine approved for general public use was 79.3 per cent effective in preventing people from contracting the disease, CNBG’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products said in late December, but it has not yet released any detailed efficacy data.

Having managed to largely contain the coronavirus pandemic after it hit the economic powerhouse last year, China is now grappling with clusters of rising cases, which has prompted the government to impose restrictions and lockdowns in certain regions.

China’s vaccination programme, which started in July for emergency use, was widened to include more priority groups in December but does not yet cover people younger than 18 and older than 59 due to insufficient clinical data.

Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate and a shot from CanSino Biologics are also being tested on children and teenagers.

Western vaccine developers including Pfizer and Moderna have also included children as young as 12 years in their clinical trials.

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