This is the Tibe Rhodiola Pharmaceutical company

China authorises trials for new mRNA-based vaccine

photo_camera PHOTO/REUTERS - A scientist classifies samples in a laboratory

The Chinese pharmaceutical company Tibet Rhodiola Pharmaceutical has announced that a candidate coronavirus vaccine it is developing with Stemirna Therapeutics has been approved by the Asian country's authorities to begin clinical trials.

The company indicated on Tuesday in a statement published on its website that it has obtained authorisation from the Asian country's National Medical Products Administration to carry out these first tests "as planned".

However, the firm does not confirm whether the tests will also take place abroad, as has been the case with the trials of other vaccine candidates developed by Chinese companies.

Depending on the pharmaceutical company, the vaccine will use messenger RNA or mRNA, which is introduced into human cells so that the body itself produces viral proteins that serve to generate the antibodies it needs to defend itself. This type of vaccine is used by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Last July, China authorised the first trials of mRNA vaccine candidates, in this case a project led by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) together with the Military Academy of Sciences and Walvax Biotech.

On the other hand, the Chinese authorities have so far only authorised the commercialisation of one of the COVID-19 vaccines developed in the country, that of Sinopharm and its subsidiary Biological Products Institute in Beijing. The two Sinopharm serums - as well as others developed by other companies in the Asian giant - have been used in China since July for exceptional cases.

Nearly four and a half million people have already been vaccinated in the Asian giant, which has been inoculating groups at high risk of being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, such as healthcare workers, customs officers and transporters.

China aims to vaccinate 50 million people among these priority groups in view of the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts in 2021 on 12 February, to prevent outbreaks during the world's largest internal migration at that time each year.