Shanghai unveils vaccine tech park to enhance pandemic resistance
Shanghai, a well-established destination for investment from home and abroad, is confident of riding the waves of a rising city to attract more quality investment with better policies and services.
Shanghai launched a massive vaccine industrial park on Thursday for the research and production of innovative vaccines for COVID-19, monkeypox and other prevailing diseases.
The Shanghai Innovative Vaccine Technology Park was unveiled in the city's former iron-steel production base in the northern suburbs of Baoshan District, bringing together the world's leading vaccine and biomedicine companies.
The new park covering 850,000 square meters, equivalent to about 120 standard football pitches, is tucked away in the former factory and chimney clusters of Baosteel and other steel production centers.
It will help to replace the former polluted industries with the innovation and technology sectors as part of Shanghai's industrial transformation strategy, said Chen Jie, Party secretary of Baoshan.
"It will mainly focus on the general-purpose, tumor and polyvalent vaccines and aims to become a high-end manufacturing base and R&D innovation center for biological vaccines," Chen added.
China's vaccine industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. More than 600 million doses of vaccines are being manufactured domestically with market scale of 35 billion yuan (US$5.07 billion), according to the district government.
"The new vaccine tech park in Baoshan is being launched at the right time," Zhang Quan, director of the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission, pointed out.
The COVID-19 pandemic and other epidemic diseases such as the monkeypox have forced domestic vaccine companies to accelerate their research and development, according to Zhang.
A number of leading Chinese biomedicine firms are based in the park. They include Shanghai Pharma, CanSinotech and the Suzhou-based Abogen, developer of one of China's first messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines.
The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine of Abogen will finish its phase-3 trial soon, Ying Bo, chief executive officer of the company, revealed. More than 20,000 people in five countries have received the doses during the trials.
The shot can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius for six months, a much less stringent temperature requirement than vaccines from western rivals.
Also, a new mRNA vaccine for the Omicron variants of the coronavirus is also being tested in Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates and has proven to be effective so far, Ying observed.
"With its base in the vaccine park, Abogen will be able to attract more companies in the upstream and downstream industrial chain to create a complete vaccine industry ecosystem," he added.
The mRNA technology is used to deliver genetic material to the body and make human cells create a protein from the virus, training the immune system to attack if it encounters SARS-CoV-2.
Compared with traditional vaccine technologies, the mRNA technology has the advantage of a shorter development and production cycle.
Baoshan aims to become a focal area in the Yangtze River Delta region's biomedical industry footprint.
The suburban district has a goal of becoming a new landmark for Shanghai's biomedical sector as well as a new hotspot with the full industrial chain for China's biomedical industry, according to the Baoshan government.
Meanwhile, a gigafactory of CanSino Biologics has already started operating in the park. It can produce 200 million shots of COVID-19 vaccines annually. The recombinant vaccine called Convidecia is a one-shot vaccine among the nine coronavirus vaccines authorized for use in China.