Sinopharm-Wuhan Institute of Biological Products

By Maya Spencer, Edited by Sami Morse

The entire world is awaiting a COVID-19 vaccine–many have gone into trials, but only a few may make it to the market. Here’s what we know about one of the promising candidates.


The vaccine developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and put to trial by the Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm has been classified by Genetic Engineering and Biology News as a “definitely maybe” for its potential as an effective COVID-19 vaccine. It’s an inactivated vaccine, which means that the pathogen is “killed,” or inactivated and therefore has no possible reversion to its infectious form. This vaccine first garnered attention on an international stage given the unique origin of the original strain: a patient from Jinyitan Hospital. This prevents some possible concerns of infection or reinfection with the vaccine, and inactivated vaccines have been implemented effectively in the past.

In its side-by-side Phase 1 & 2 trials, researchers addressed the efficacy and reaction to three separate doses and did further studies on the effects of the middle dose. Throughout the trials, patients experienced no adverse reactions to the vaccine, despite minor, self-limiting issues such as injection site pain and mild fever. Regarding immunogenicity, researchers found that a two-shot administration schedule on day 0 and day 21 lead to 100% of the participants developing specific antibodies. Though robust, scientists are unsure whether the antibody levels elicited by this vaccine would be enough for substantial protection against SARS-CoV-2.

The vaccine is undergoing Phase 3 trials in the United Arab Emirates, Peru, and Morocco. In spite of the encouraging results, there are a few concerns regarding the vaccine. Primarily, its requirement for a two shot approach may lead to lower compliance, thus hindering our ability to successively immunize the general public. Sinopharm’s Phase 1 & 2 clinical trials also lacked a reference study, comparing vaccine-elicited immunogenicity to those who have already been infected. As a result, the report has no conclusive evidence that the vaccine could provide effective immunity. As results from phase 3 clinical trails begin to roll in, countries around the world will be weighing these issues when considering which vaccine would be most viable to implement. To note, Sinopharm is also working on another inactivated vaccine strain with the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, which has progressed to phase 3 trials as well.

Results from ongoing research and the current understanding of COVID-19 are constantly evolving. This post contains information that was last updated on October 29, 2020.

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