China's CanSino confident its mRNA COVID vaccine as good as Moderna, Pfizer shots
By Natalie Grover and Sophie Yu
LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - CanSino Biologics CEO Yu Xuefeng said on Friday he was confident his company's experimental COVID-19 vaccine using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology was as good as shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves in China after the country abandoned its zero-COVID policy in December, domestic companies like CanSino are racing to develop mRNA COVID vaccines.
The country - which experienced a wave of infections across its 1.4 billion population after the sudden relaxation of COVID restrictions - has so far declined to use mRNA vaccines from abroad, and has yet to approve a domestic one that uses the technology.
Approved vaccines in China are widely considered less effective than the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA shots.
Yu acknowledged that it was not possible to directly test the CanSino vaccine versus the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech shots in a head-to-head trial because they were not available in China.
"But just based on published data...I'm confident our product is as good as the already launched mRNA vaccines," he told Reuters in an interview.
In January, CanSino reported "positive" interim data from its experimental COVID-19 mRNA booster vaccine, CS-2034, in a mid-stage clinical trial.
The 433-person trial evaluated the use of CS-2034 in people who had already received three doses of an inactivated vaccine, against an additional shot of an inactivated vaccine.
Inactivated vaccines contain a dead form of the pathogen, in this case the COVID-causing virus SARS-COV-2, to help the immune system trigger a response without causing illness.
After 28 days following the booster shots, adults in the CS-2034 group had virus-neutralizing antibodies at levels that were 27 times as high as those in the inactivated vaccine group against the original Wuhan strain, and 23 times higher against the BA.1 Omicron variant, the company said. (Reporting by Natalie Grover in London and Sophie Yu in Beijing; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)