Coronavirus vaccines being developed in China may be ready for use by the general public as early as November, an official with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
China has four Covid-19 vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials. At least three of those have already been offered to essential workers under an emergency use programme launched in July.
Phase 3 clinical trials were proceeding smoothly and the vaccines could be ready for the general public in November or December, CDC chief biosafety expert Guizhen Wu said in an interview with state TV late on Monday.
Wu, who said she has experienced no abnormal symptoms in recent months after taking an experimental vaccine herself in April, did not specify which vaccines she was referring to.
A unit of state pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and US-listed Sinovac Biotech are developing the three vaccines under the state's emergency use programme. A fourth Covid-19 vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics was approved for use by the Chinese military in June.
Sinopharm said in July that its vaccine could be ready for public use by the end of this year after the conclusion of Phase 3 trials.
Global vaccine makers are racing to develop an effective vaccine against the virus which has killed more than 928,000 people.
Leading Western vaccine makers pledged earlier this month to uphold scientific study standards and reject any political pressure to rush the process.
South Korea said yesterday it plans to spend $146 million to procure coronavirus vaccines, initially aiming to secure a supply for 30 million people, or 60% of its population, as it battles persistent outbreaks of new cases.
The population target is higher than a World Health Organization (WHO) goal for the early purchase of supplies for 20% of the world's most vulnerable people, and at least 40% agreed by European Union nations, Britain and EU partners for their populations.
While South Korean authorities would like to inoculate the entire population of 52 million, uncertainty around any vaccine's safety, efficacy and development was limiting investment, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet meeting.
Chung said the government would negotiate with relevant international organisations and vaccine makers to secure the supply and would buy more as developments unfolded.
In August, South Korea said it planned to join the COVAX facility, a global novel coronavirus vaccine allocation plan co-led by the WHO, which aims to help buy and fairly distribute the shots, reports Reuters.
South Korea will buy 20 million doses of vaccine from the COVAX scheme, enough for 10 million people, and 40 million doses from private drug-makers, health authorities said in a statement.
The United Arab Emirates has announced it approved the emergency use for healthcare workers of a coronavirus vaccine still in the final phase of human trials.
"The vaccine will be available to our first line of defense heroes who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus," tweeted the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) on Monday.
Chinese drug giant Sinopharm began the third phase of trials for a Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE in July, with Emirati officials saying the results have been positive.
"Clinical trials for the third phase are continuing under the strict supervision of medical teams, while following all measures to control the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine," said NCEMA.
The announcement came amid a spike in cases in the UAE, whose daily toll hit an all-time high on Saturday when the country recorded 1,007 infections.