BEIJING (Reuters) - China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) has the capacity to provide more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world beyond China in the second half of this year, the firm's chairman Liu Jingzhen said late on Wednesday.
That level of supply capability assumes vaccination demand in China is being met, Liu said at a panel of the Global Health Forum of the Boao Forum for Asia.
"Our annual production capacity exceeds 5 billion doses," Liu said, "This is our own capacity."
He declined to disclose how many shots the state-backed drugmaker has agreed to give to the global COVAX programme for sharing doses, mainly with poor countries.
Two vaccines from Sinopharm are being used in China, one of which has gained emergency use approval from the World Health Organization, a prerequisite for a vaccine to be included in the COVAX initiative.
Liu said Sinopharm has also planned a manufacturing facility for a third shot, which is being tested in an early-stage clinical trial.
The GAVI vaccine alliance is in talks with Sinovac Biotech, another major COVID-19 vaccine provider from China, to expand the COVAX portfolio, a GAVI spokesperson said on Wednesday.
China promised in February to provide 10 million doses to COVAX.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Peter Graff)