Chinese biopharmaceutical company, Sinovac Biotech announced a USD 515 million funding boost from Sino Biopharmaceutical Limited, a leading Chinese research and development pharmaceutical conglomerate.

A press release posted on Sinovac’s website this morning stated that the additional funding would enable the firm to complete the construction of a second production facility by the end of 2020, which would allow the annual production capacity of its coronavirus vaccine – CoronaVac – to be increased from 300 to 600 million doses.

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Why it matters: Sinovac’s vaccine could soon serve as a competitor to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was approved for use in the UK four days ago.

• The investment will also give Sino Biopharmaceutical a 15.03% interest in Sinovac Life Sciences.

• Sinovac said the funding would be put towards “further development, capacity expansion, and manufacturing of the CoronaVac, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, as well as conducting other development and operational activities.”

• Phase III clinical trials for CoronaVac have been approved in Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, and Chile. Sinovac is currently engaged in talks with the Philippines over a potential deal. 

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More details: “In addition to funding the CoronaVac, this new strategic partnership with Sino Biopharmaceutical Limited further enables us to improve our vaccine sales capabilities, expand in Asia markets, develop and access new technologies, and most importantly, accelerate our efforts to help combat the global pandemic,” said Weidong Yin, Chairman of Sinovac. 

• Bloomberg reported earlier today that the first batch of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Indonesia, which is suffering Southeast Asia’s worst outbreak.

• As many as 1.2 million doses of the vaccine arrived late on Sunday and the government expects to receive another shipment of 1.8 million doses in early January.

• In Brazil, Sao Paulo governor João Doria asserted that “among all the vaccines tested in the country, CoronaVac is the safest, the one with the best and most promising rates”.

• Phase I and II trials conducted in China indicated that CoronaVac induced neutralising antibodies among over 90% of volunteers who received two doses of the vaccine.

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Looking ahead: Authorities in the Chinese province of Zhejiang have made CoronaVac available to high-risk groups in the area under an emergency use scheme.

• Brazil’s Butantan Institute biomedical centre, in charge of conducting the country’s Phase III trial of CoronaVac in the country, said last week that Sinovac was expected to publish results from its vaccine trials by December 15.

• Sinovac also said that it could potentially seek to further expand its production capacity in the future, depending on “market conditions and the availability of financing.” 

Last month, acting chief executive and Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-Chung stated that Hongkongers would be able to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine if the mainland was successful in developing one, reported the Standard. He added that the SAR is set to obtain vaccines from two mainland sources, but it is unclear whether Sinovac’ CoronaVac is one of the two sources.

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