AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to begin clinical trials in China: executive

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - AstraZeneca Plc plans to start early and mid-stage clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in China this year, a senior executive said on Friday, as it prepares a global rollout of the vaccine.

The vaccine candidate is already in the final stage of clinical trials in other countries, and AstraZeneca and its partner on the project, the University of Oxford, expect data from the late-stage trials this year.

If successful, they will file for emergency approvals in as many countries as possible at the same time, its CEO, Pascal Soriot, said this week.

In China, the company has a deal with Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products to manufacture the vaccine in the country.

Under the agreement, Shenzhen Kangtai, one of China's top vaccine makers, will ensure it has annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses of the experimental shot AZD1222 by the end of this year.

The vaccine may be approved for use in China by mid-2021 after gathering safety data from Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials in China and efficacy data from Phase 3 trials overseas, Leon Wang, head of AstraZeneca's China operation told Reuters.

Wang said its trials in China would use vaccines manufactured by local partner Shenzhen Kangtai.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Brenda Goh. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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