How is the market structure?According to the EPI, category one vaccines are purchased by the government and provided to the public at no cost, whereas category two vaccines are voluntary for which citizens would usually have to pay out of their pocket. The government does not regulate the private sector on market prices; hence the category two vaccinations are expensive, including vaccines for influenza and rabies. When it comes to the supply side, the stringent vaccine manufacturing laws and regulations have hindered foreign manufacturers from participating in the market. However, vaccination imports have surged in recent years, even with the manufacturers being predominantly domestic.
What happened before the bottom-up reformation?Unfortunately, there have been multiple incidents in the last decade where substandard, counterfeit, or expired vaccinations were distributed to the public, leading to infant fatalities, side-effects in children, and public outrage for the quality assurance of vaccinations. Consequently, a fraction of parents were skeptical at letting their children be inoculated, and some citizens have resorted to medical tourism abroad. In response to the public criticisms, the Chinese government has reformed the measures to monitor and control vaccines. One of the main vaccination manufacturers involved in the scandals, Changsheng, was fined a record 1.3 billion U.S. dollar by the government, while dozens of officials were disciplined, and some executives were arrested. In the meantime, a first draft of the vaccine management law has been released for public consultation in November 2018, which would impose tighter penalties and control over the whole vaccines industry in China once the Congress would pass the law.
The year 2020 was marred by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has affected worldwide, thus rendering the need for COVID-19 vaccines invaluable. China’s coronavirus taskforce has developed five vaccines in or about to enter phase three clinical trials for efficacy. The state-owned enterprise Sinopharm developed two of the vaccines mentioned above, with Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech developing one of their own.