China’s vaccine gambit

11 December 2020 Vol 370, Issue 6522


China’s vaccine gambit
By Jon Cohen
Science11 Dec 2020 : 1263-1267 Full Access
With its global campaign to test and promote COVID-19 vaccines, China aims to win friends and cut deals.
On 29 February, less than 2 months after the world awakened to the threat of the pandemic coronavirus, virologist Chen Wei, a major general in China’s army, and six military scientists on her team received injections of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Chen, a national hero for her work on Ebola vaccines, had come to the initial center of the pandemic, Wuhan, with her group from the Academy of Medical Military Sciences, in part to help make the candidate vaccine with pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics. In the United States, the Trump administration’s $10.8 billion Operation Warp Speed accelerated vaccine R&D faster than many researchers thought possible. But an equally massive effort has unfolded in China. CanSino and two other Chinese companies are investing substantial resources and testing four candidates in tens of thousands of volunteers around the world. They are likely only days or weeks away from announcing the outcomes of efficacy trials, just behind the encouraging early results recently announced by a brace of companies and institutions outside China.