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China can hit 500-mln-dose annual capacity of CanSinoBIO COVID-19 vaccine this year-state media

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BEIJING, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Production capacity for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and a military-backed institute could hit an annual half a billion doses this year, a scientist leading research for the shot told state media.

"There is no problem that the annual production capacity can reach 500 million this year," Chen Wei, a researcher at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, said in an interview with China Central Television late on Friday.

Chen did not say how many doses of the single-shot Ad5-nCoV vaccine, among the four regimens China has approved for public use, will in fact be manufactured in 2021.

CanSinoBIO was not immediately available for comment.

Sinovac Biotech, whose two-dose CoronaVac shot was also cleared for public use in China, has said it was aiming to have annual capacity of 1 billion doses in bulk form this month, though its capacity to fill vials and syringes lags its bulk manufacturing capacity.

China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) has two vaccines eligible for public use, developed by units in Wuhan and Beijing, respectively. Both vaccines require two injections.

The Wuhan unit has been mass producing its shot at a facility that can churn out as many as 100 million doses a year. The Beijing unit has annual capacity of 1 billion doses. (Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by William Mallard)