MRNA Stock – China’s Missed mRNA Opportunity – Bloomberg
Here’s the latest news from the global pandemic.
China’s missed mRNA opportunity
While messenger RNA shots from Moderna and Pfizer–BioNTech become even more popular amid safety concerns surrounding other front-runner vaccines, China doesn’t yet have an mRNA shot of its own. Instead, it’s peddling old-school vaccines that don’t seem to be as effective.
That’s surprising, since the Chinese government has spent years trying to close the gap with the West and turn the country into a pharma/biotech power. After spending so much time and money promoting R&D, recruiting scientists and building infrastructure to take on the world’s biggest drugmakers, China should be at the forefront of Covid vaccines. But China is a laggard in mRNA, the new technology that’s performed so well during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the head of China’s center for disease control admitted as much, saying publicly that Chinese Covid vaccines aren’t so good.
That generated embarrassing headlines worldwide, and the Chinese media quickly shifted to damage control, saying he had been misunderstood and hadn’t been bad-mouthing local jabs. Chinese media also reported that China isn’t that far behind, highlighting progress local companies have made developing mRNA vaccines—its first such shot is entering the final stage of human testing soon.
To be fair, China is not the only country that missed the boat on mRNA, which before Covid hadn’t received approval from regulators anywhere. As mRNA revolutionizes the pharmaceutical and vaccine worlds, companies that don’t want to risk ceding big chunks of the market not just for Covid-19 but also cancer, flu and other diseases are trying to catch up. Luckily for these producers, they can obtain some of the know-how from Western companies that are eager to license their technology.
And in the meantime, China’s existing vaccines—which don’t need complicated cold-storage logistics—have advantages over the mRNA ones, especially for countries like Indonesia and the Philippines that don’t have the same resources as wealthier places. But “good enough” isn’t going to fly in the long term for Chinese companies trying to be global leaders in biotechnology and medical science.—Bruce Einhorn
Track the vaccines
Governments around the world desperately need to close the yawning vaccine gap between rich and poor nations. But as wealthy nations begin offering vaccinations to younger cohorts, they may hit a challenge closer to home. Get the story here.
What you should read
Know someone else who would like this newsletter? Have them sign up here.
Have any questions, concerns, or news tips on Covid-19 news? Get in touch or help us cover the story.
Like this newsletter? Subscribe for unlimited access to trusted, data-based journalism in 120 countries around the world and gain expert analysis from exclusive daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.