China approves COVID-19 vaccine for first time

China's government has approved a domestically-developed coronavirus vaccine, saying it cleared safety and efficacy standards.

It is the first time Beijing has granted authorization to a vaccine against COVID-19.

Chen Shifei, the deputy commissioner of the National Medical Products Administration, told reporters on Thursday the vaccine was developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm.

Approval was given on the condition that clinical testing will continue, with data obtained reported to authorities.

The developer reportedly says midterm clinical results show the vaccine is 79.34 percent effective and meets requirements set by the World Health Organization.

Information published by the WHO shows the inactivated vaccine is administered by intra-muscular injection, like other vaccines already authorized in the United States and Europe. A second shot is to be given three weeks after the first one.

In July, the Chinese government started administering three vaccines, including the newly-approved one, on an emergency basis to health and transport workers.

A senior health official told reporters that 4.5 million doses have been given so far.

The official said fewer than 0.1 percent of recipients developed a slight fever, while two in 1 million experienced serious reactions such as allergic responses.

Beijing says it aims to achieve herd immunity by expanding vaccinations to high-risk groups such as the elderly.