Here’s the latest news from the global pandemic.
- Merkel urges EU to agree on recovery fund
- U.K. manufacturers warn of layoffs, plead for investment
- Fauci says coronavirus mutation may speed spread
China’s leader in the vaccine chase
With China and Canada at geopolitical odds over a range of issues, it may come as a surprise that one of the front-runners in the race for a coronavirus vaccine is born of their combined biotech prowess.
Add the fact that this same vaccine is backed by a superstar general in the Chinese military, and it’s easy to see why Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics Inc.’s immunization is being watched closely as a potential way to halt the accelerating pandemic.
One among a handful of Chinese companies whose vaccines have reached the crucial final stage of human testing, CanSino has also received scientific kudos for publishing the full data from the first phase of its human trials in the Lancet medical journal. Other front-runner vaccine makers, including major western efforts, have only released selected data points and positive press releases to the public.
In reporting on the origins of the intriguing company, I’ve found that CanSino’s story is also that of China’s burgeoning biotech sector as a whole, which had been making leaps and bounds in progress even before the pandemic. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vow to provide Chinese vaccines equitably to the whole world shows how high the pressure is on its scientists to prove themselves in this crisis.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made creating a Covid-19 vaccine a priority.
Photographer: Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency
The rise of China’s biotech and medical science sector is buoyed by people like CanSino’s founders, talented China-born scientists who trained and worked in Canada for decades before returning home to make their own fortunes and names. (The “Can” in CanSino refers to the North American country.) Their strong network there paid off in approval from Canada’s health authorities to allow testing and manufacture of its vaccine locally.
Sometime in the late 2000s, CanSino’s founders gathered at a backyard in Toronto on a hot summer day over barbecue and beers, talking about the glaring gap between the motherland and the developed world in vaccine-making. They made it a mission of their own to close that gap. Now they’re closer than ever.—Lyu Dong
Tracking the virus
As the nation heads into the Fourth of July holiday, officials urged citizens to stay home to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. The latest projections include the possibility of a second wave of deaths, with as many as 199,000 deaths by October.