From hard-hit city to vaccine hub: Sinopharm's Wuhan institute aim to increase vaccine production to 1b doses a year
Published: Apr 09, 2021 10:33 PM

One year after lockdown has been lifted in Wuhan, the Chinese city hardest hit by the coronavirus is speeding up production of its locally produced COVID-19 vaccine and building new facilities to expand capacity, to inject more confidence into the country and the world in the battle against the disease.

The Global Times reporters visited the production facilities of Sinopharm's Wuhan institute on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the city's reopening, to learn about the complex packaging process the COVID-19 vaccine goes through. 

First, prefilled syringes will be checked for quality flaws, and a machine will automatically remove those substandard in purity. Those that failed quality checks will be destroyed. Only the qualified prefilled syringes will be kept in the packaging line to be printed with production dates and validity periods and then sealed for packaging. 

Finally, workers will place the vaccines into box strapping machines and put the boxes on a trailer before shipping them to other Chinese cities or foreign countries. 

The packaging plant packs around 2 million doses of vaccine every week, and in the near future mechanic arms will replace workers to carry the vaccine boxes so that the entire packaging line will be mechanized, the Global Times learned from Sinopharm's Wuhan institute. 

The Wuhan institute is also expanding its annual production capacity with the first-phase construction of an expansion project located in Jingang industrial park, expected to be finished by May. After the project is complete, the annual production capacity of Wuhan-produced COVID-19 vaccines is expected to increase to 1 billion doses.

The inactivated COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm's Wuhan institute was granted conditional market approval in February, and the annual production capacity of the vaccine is currently up to 100 million doses. 

So far, Sinopharm's Beijing and Wuhan institutes have provided a total of 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the whole country, and they have also provided 100 million doses to 196 other countries and regions around the world. Since April, Sinopharm has increased its production capacity to 100 million doses per month, according to the company. 

China is ramping up efforts to vaccinate 560 million people, or 40 percent of China's population, by the end of June, and another 330 million people will be vaccinated by the end of the year, covering 64 percent of the total population, the Global Times has previously learned. 

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