China approves new polio vaccine

Polio vaccine from Shutterstock
Polio vaccine from Shutterstock

China has approved a new polio vaccine, the first of its kind to be produced in the country, a month after local authorities gave the green light for a home-grown Ebola vaccine amid Beijing's push to become a world leader in producing innovative drugs.

Part of routine disease prevention

The development drew praise from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday who said the vaccine, which will be given to Chinese children as part of routine disease prevention, would help the global fight against the polio virus.

China's private and state-run medical laboratories have been growing in sophistication, helping reduce reliance on imported medicines and competing with global rivals.

Read: New combo vaccine for kids

"This new vaccine is a critically important weapon in the fight against polio as the world nears the eradication of this dreaded disease," Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO representative in China, said in a statement.

China technically eradicated polio in 2000, but there have been outbreaks of the disease in the country since.

Experimental Ebola vaccine

China's drug regulator approved the new vaccine, called Ai Bi Wei, on Wednesday, according to a statement from the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). The vaccine was developed by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

China approved a domestically developed experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials in December.

Read: J&J starts clinical trials of Ebola vaccine

China currently produces an oral vaccine to protect against polio, but it can in some cases cause people to develop the disease. The CFDA said it expected demand for the new vaccine to be in the tens of millions of doses each year.

"As an important innovative product which our country has the full intellectual property rights to, the approval of this vaccine is a successful leap forward to take China's vaccines from "made in China" to "created in China", it said.

Driven by a boom in pharmaceutical-related patents, China is now the world leader in terms of patent applications, according to a Reuters report last month.

Read more:
Why polio is still around
New vaccination plan aims to rid world of polio
Two Ebola shots may be better than one

Image: Polio vaccine from Ebola

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.