China's Sinovac Biotech has won swift approval to begin manufacturing the country's first swine flu vaccine. And the regulatory green light will likely be followed up in short order with a second approval.
China is scrambling to head off an expected resurgence of swine flu this fall. Its vast population would easily swamp the country's healthcare system if the pandemic returns with force. A high rate of infection could also easily interfere with the country's huge manufacturing output.
The Chinese are likely to come under intense pressure to donate 10 percent of their production of swine flu vaccine to other countries in the region. The World Health Organization has urged manufacturers to set aside part of their vaccine for lesser developed nations that can't afford to compete with Europe and the U.S. But there will be plenty of local demand for all the vaccine China can produce. Going all out, the country says that its vaccine manufacturers can produce enough vaccine to protect 65 million people this fall--only five percent of its population.
- read the story in the Wall Street Journal
ALSO: Sinovac is negotiating a deal with South Korea's Boryung Pharm to supply the country with swine flu jabs. Report