SHARES of pharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics Inc. surged yesterday after the firm said more cities in a eastern China province will follow Shanghai in adopting its inhaled COVID vaccine.
In what is believed to be the world’s first, Shanghai last week introduced a new type of COVID-19 vaccine that is inhaled rather than administered via injection.
Regulators approved the vaccine, produced by Hong Kong and Shanghai-listed CanSino, for use as a booster in September.
And now the first people are starting to receive the vaccine, which is inhaled via the mouth from a vessel that looks like a take-out coffee cup with a short mouthpiece.
“Our body’s first line of defense is the mucus membrane of our respiratory system, we want that to be directly stimulated to improve immunity and using the inhaled vaccine does that,” said Zhao Hui, chief medical officer at Shanghai United Family Hospital Pudong.
Zhao’s hospital is among those administering the new vaccine, which will be used as well as regular injected shots.
Commenting on what he said was a first use of the technology, Erwin Loh, chief medical officer at St Vincents Health Australia, said the advent of inhaled vaccines was important not only because of their potential to guard against infection, but also because they could lessen vaccine hesitancy.
Increasing the uptake in vaccinations is vital for China, which sticks to its “zero-COVID” policy, aiming to eliminate community outbreaks of the virus.
CanSino said Tuesday in its official social media account that 13 cities in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province are preparing to start using inhaled vaccines.
The firm’s Hong Kong-listed shares jumped as much as 63.38% yesterday before the Hong Kong stock exchange suspended trading in both the securities and derivatives markets in the afternoon due to tropical storm Nalgae. Its shares also surged the 20% daily limit in Shanghai trading.
CanSino has defied the broader market rout recently, even after reporting a loss in profit for the third quarter. Helping the rally was last week’s announcement that Shanghai will start inoculation with inhaled COVID vaccines as booster shots.
Despite the uptrend, there are uncertainties over how much the vaccines will boost the company’s sales.
Even if their products were adopted by the government for urgent usage, competition in the industry is still “fierce,” it said Saturday.
Wuxi, Huai’an and Yangzhou are among the cities planning to adopt CanSino’s products, the company said.
According to official government data, more than 90% of China’s population has been vaccinated. But vaccine progress has slowed and doses administered fell from more than 5 million per day in March to just about 100,000 in October.
China has relied on domestically produced, inactivated shots and has yet to import, or introduce its own version, of an mRNA vaccine. The inhaled vaccine is an aerosol version of an inactive shot.
Loh is hopeful that results from Shanghai’s foray into inhaled vaccines will encourage other countries to follow suit.
“I think inhaled vaccines for respiratory illness like COVID-19 will be the future,” he said.
ARTICLE FORM: Shenzhen Daily