China's Walvax to make COVID-19 vaccine candidate similar to AstraZeneca's - media

BEIJING, December 27 (Reuters). China's Walvax Biotechnology Co has started work on a facility to manufacture an early-stage coronavirus vaccine candidate similar to AstraZeneca PLC's product.
Mass production for the proposed vaccine could begin in mid-2021 with an estimated capacity of 200 million doses per year, Health Times, a People's Daily newspaper, said.
The treatment relies on a chimpanzee adenovirus to deliver materials that can trigger an immune response against the virus that causes COVID-19, a technique used on the candidate by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
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The Chinese candidate, jointly developed by China's Tsinghua University and Tianjin Medical University, has not been tested on humans. Treatment with AstraZeneca-Oxford is in the final stage of large studies.
AstraZeneca's late-stage studies in the UK and Brazil last month found 62% effectiveness for subjects who received two full doses, but 90% for a subgroup who received half and then a full dose. A Reuters investigation this week found problems with the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine study.
Adenovirus is used in other COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including one from CanSino Biologics Inc. of China, which is based on a harmless cold virus known as adenovirus type 5 (Ad5).
Researchers of the CanSino vaccine said it may be weaker in people who have been exposed to Ad5 and already had immunity to the adenovirus.
The potential Walvax vaccine could avoid this problem by using a rare adenovirus from chimpanzees, to which humans normally do not have pre-existing immunity, the Health Times said.
Walvax has another facility in the works for a vaccine it is jointly developing with the Academy of Military Science and Suzhou Abogen Biosciences Co, which are in early clinical trials.
China has put at least five vaccine candidates into late-stage clinical trials. (Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by William Mallard)
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