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Here’s everything you need to know about the CanSino Covid-19 vaccine

What is the CanSino Covid-19 vaccine?

The latest Covid-19 vaccine to join the battle as Malaysia grapples to control the circulation of the Delta variant, CanSino as it is commonly known is different fundamentally, as well as in application, from two other Chinese vaccines currently being administered in the country. 

Malaysia received the maiden shipment of 200,000 doses on August 20. A substantial quantity of those is in the process of rolling out in Sabah. 650 villagers from Pulau Mantanani, an idyllic but far-flung island off the coast of Kota Belud, were among the first to be immunised as reported by The Star. The vaccine will also be administered in 5 other states – Perak, Terengganu, Johor, Kedah and Kelantan – where vaccination rates of their adult populations are below 50%. 

The vaccine requires only a single dose and is comparatively easier to store than the demanding Pfizer. This also means the vaccine presents fewer logistical challenges when it is transported to the many fringes of Malaysia – a blessing for those living in rural, severely underdeveloped and inaccessible places. 

Unlike the Covid-19 vaccines made by fellow Chinese biotech giants Sinopharm and Sinovac, which are composed of inactivated Covid virus, the CanSino elixir is closer to the single-dose Johnson & Johnson viral vector vaccine. Based on adenovirus type 5, the CanSino vaccine is also similar to the widely administered AstraZeneca vaccine.

Simplistically speaking, a viral vector vaccine is loaded with an antigen from the coronavirus on harmless common cold-causing adenovirus. It delivers the instruction to our cells to recreate spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2. Recognising these substances don’t belong in our bodies, our immune system sets out to eradicate the infection. 

There is insufficient information available on adverse side effects.

According to a Bloomberg report, the vaccine boasts an efficacy rate of 65.7% at preventing symptomatic cases based on an analysis from late-stage trials. The result is in line with the efficacy posted by Johnson & Johnson. Bear in mind, however, that when these trials took place, the Delta variant was yet to be identified. 

In a recent announcement, the company clarified that while the neutralising antibody level in people inoculated with the CanSino vaccine can drop 30% after 6 months, a booster shot can reverse the predicament and send the antibody level up 8 folds in just 2 weeks. 

Meanwhile, the biotech company is developing an inhaled version, as opposed to injected, of the vaccine. According to a Channel News Asia report, the alternative is of a lower dosage but requires two doses. It is now undergoing an early-stage clinical trial. 

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Hero and feature images by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Justin Ng
Digital Content Director, Kuala Lumpur
Often think of myself as a journalist and so I delve deeper into a range of topics. Talk to me about current affairs, watches, travel, drinks, new experiences and more importantly, the business, economics and dynamics behind it.