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China’s CanSino in mRNA vaccine deal with AstraZeneca

by nytime
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By Casey Hall

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – CanSino Biologics has agreed with AstraZeneca to provide “contract development and manufacturing services” to support the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker’s messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine programme, the Chinese company said on Tuesday.

In a filing to Shanghai’s stock exchange, CanSino said it would manufacture and supply unspecified mRNA products to AstraZeneca. It did not disclose the value of the deal.

AstraZeneca did not have an immediate comment on the announcement.

In China, which has relied on locally produced COVID-19 vaccines rather than allowing mRNA products from foreign manufacturers to be imported, mRNA vaccines are still not in widespread use.

The country approved in March its first homegrown mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, developed by CSPC Pharmaceutical Group.

CanSino has been working on its own mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, and said in February it was in discussion with Chinese regulators around the protocol for a late-stage study for its COVID-19 mRNA booster vaccine, CS-2034.

AstraZeneca is China’s largest drugmaker and is doubling down on the world’s No.2 pharmaceutical market amid slumping sales of its COVID vaccine.

At an event in China in May, its China president pledged to “build a local, transnational company that loves the Communist Party and loves the country”.

The cooperation deal comes only a month after China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao told foreign pharmaceuticals firms including AstraZeneca at a roundtable meeting that they can expect “more development opportunities”.

It also comes after vaccine maker Moderna, which has said that it was keen to sell its mRNA vaccine to China, announced a deal last month to develop and manufacture mRNA medicines in the country.

(Reporting by Casey Hall; Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Mark Potter)

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