Santiago, Aug 4 (EFE).- China’s Sinovac Biotech said Wednesday that it will open a plant in Chile capable of turning out 60 million doses a year of its CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine for distribution across Latin America.
Along with the bottling facility in the Santiago metropolitan area, expected to enter operation in the first half of 2022, Sinovac hopes to build an innovation and development center in the northern region of Antofagasta with an eye toward making it possible for the enter vaccine production process to be carried out in Chile.
The bottling plant will package not only CoronaVac, but also vaccines for influenza and hepatitis.
CoronaVac, the leading Covid-19 vaccine in Chile, is also used in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.
Sinovac’s vice president, Weining Meng, presented the project at a press conference in Santiago where he was joined by the Chilean ministers of health, Enrique Paris; science, Andres Couve; and economy, Lucas Palacios.
Also present were representatives of Chile’s Catholic University and the Milenio Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, which collaborated with Sinovac on the CoronaVac clinical trials.
“Today is a very important day because Chile is announcing the return of domestic production of vaccines,” Paris said, noting that the Andean nation began producing vaccines in the 19th century before abandoning the effort 18 years ago.
“But it is not only an important day for Chile, because once the factory produces vaccines here, they will be able to export to Latin America,” the health minister said.
Chile is ready to assist neighboring countries who have struggled to obtain vaccines during the pandemic, he said.
Sinovac executives spent most of the last month in Chile scouting locations for the bottling plant.
Nearly 20 million of the 29 million vaccine doses that Chile has received have been the CoronaVac shot, while Pfizer/BioNTech, Cansino and Oxford/AstraZeneca account for the rest.
On Tuesday, the Chilean government published a study based on clinical histories of 8.6 million people who were fully vaccinated with CoronaVac.
The data showed that CoronaVac was 58.49 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infections with Covid-19 and 86.3 percent effective in preventing death. EFE