October 15, 2020 at 17:01 JST
A division of Chinese state-run Sinopharm Group Co. Ltd. that is developing two COVID-19 vaccines is offering them for free to Chinese students going abroad for higher studies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The move by China National Biotec Group Co. (CNBG) is aimed at boosting public confidence in homegrown inoculations, the Journal reported, citing a company website and some students who applied for it.
The announcement of the company distributing vaccines to students appeared on a website where people could sign up to receive it, the newspaper reported.
The website said on Monday that 481,613 people had taken the vaccine while an additional 93,653 had applied to be inoculated, according to the report.
The website was down starting Tuesday, the report said, adding that it was “under maintenance.”
CNBG did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.
China launched a vaccine emergency use program in July, offering three experimental shots developed by a unit of state pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group and U.S.-listed Sinovac Biotech.
A fourth vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics was approved for use by the Chinese military in June.
On the other hand, an Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company called Group 42 is nearing the end of Phase III clinical trials of a vaccine in partnership with CNBG.
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