Biz / Tech

China leads world in number of COVID-19 medical patent applications

Zhu Shenshen
It ranked No. 1, ahead of both the United States and India, up to June this year, with 56 percent of global applications.
Zhu Shenshen

China has taken leading positions in COVID-19 medical research, including in the number of patents and new technology applications like artificial intelligence, industry reports said.

Between January 2020 and June 2022, China's applications for COVID-19 medical patents ranked No. 1 in the world, accounting for 56 percent of the global applications and ahead of the United States and India.

The patent applications cover virus testing, vaccine and drug treatment, according to PatSnap, which studies patent data and provides consultation services.

China's COVID-19 related research activity is the highest in the world, said PatSnap, which has over 1,800 biomedicine clients globally.

In the patent category, China focuses more on vaccine testing while the United States focuses more on drug treatment, industry analysts said.

According to the National Medical Products Administration, more than 50 COVID-19 drugs had been approved to enter the clinical trial stage in China by February. They included some China-unique drugs using traditional Chinese medicine theory.

Research into COVID-19 vaccines and drugs has been accelerated and the cycle has been shortened by 70 to 90 percent, both in China and the United States.

Comparatively, a general cycle of biomedicine development takes from eight to 15 years. Currently, the full research cycle for a COVID-19 vaccine and drug is 12-16 months and 20-24 months respectively, industry reports said.

The wide adoption of AI and cross-industry development has boosted the research pipeline. AI is used in sectors like CT imaging analysis, screening of existing drug results against COVID-19 and various other applications.

Among the top 20 Chinese AI medical patent holders, tech giants are speeding up expansion. Ping An Tech, Tencent and Baidu have gained more patents between 2020 and 2022, with an increased share from 8 percent to 28 percent, according to PatSnap.

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