China has some 15 candidates in clinical trials, with five already in phase 3 process

With millions getting vaccinated in China to avoid contracting COVID-19, the country’s pharmaceutical cold chain logistics sector is set to get a boost, said industry analysts and business executives.

Official data showed the country has 15 vaccine candidates entering clinical trials, with five of them already in third stage clinical tests. A candidate vaccine of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) was conditionally approved for use on Dec 31, a day after the company announced results of its phase 3 study showing the vaccine to be 79 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

A total of 18 enterprises are expanding or setting up new production lines for COVID-19 vaccines, said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The annual capacity of Sinopharm has already hit 1 billion doses. Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s vaccine candidate is now conducting phase 3 human testing, and is expected to finish its capacity expansion project soon to increase annual production capacity to 1 billion doses.

The value of the domestic cold chain logistics market-which handles both foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals-was about 220 billion yuan ($34 billion) in 2019, and the figure is expected to surge to 1.6 trillion yuan after the deployment of more COVID vaccines, said Zhang Qingsong, head of the logistics arm of Jointown Pharmaceutical Group, China’s largest non-State-owned pharmaceutical distribution company.

“Upcoming wide-ranging COVID-19 vaccination drives require strengthened capability in vaccine storage and distribution, and that is set to accelerate the development of the cold chain logistics industry for pharmaceuticals in China,” Zhang said.

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