China approves its first mRNA vaccine, from domestic drugmaker CSPC

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BEIJING, March 22 (Reuters) - China's CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Limited said on Wednesday its messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine has received emergency use authorisation from Chinese health authorities.

The approval from the National Medical Products Administration means CSPC is the first company cleared to provide an mRNA vaccine in China - but it comes as COVID cases decline across the country after a recent surge.

China has declined to use mRNA vaccines from abroad and vaccines available in China are widely considered less effective than the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA shots.

CSPC said it independently developed its vaccine, called SYS6006, which targets some major Omicron coronavirus variants.

The firm said testing showed incidents of adverse effects were low and, specifically, the severity of bad events in an elderly group were significantly reduced, which could be a boon for China as it has stressed the need to focus on vaccinating and boosting its vulnerable elderly population.

Last August, the firm reported a “good” safety profile for the shot and in a November filing revealed positive progress of the candidate in several clinical studies.

The firm got emergency approval to conduct clinical trials of the mRNA shot in April last year, at about the same time as CanSino, another China-based company that is testing an mRNA Omicron booster shot. (Reporting by Bernard Orr; Editing by Robert Birsel)