Speed Reads

Solving COVID

China approves coronavirus vaccine for military use, skipping a major safety trial along the way

China is taking the fast track to approving a COVID-19 vaccine — and potentially putting lives in danger along the way.

China's Central Military Commission approved military use of an experimental coronavirus vaccine, Chinese vaccine developer CanSino Biologics announced Monday. It's unclear whether military members will be mandated to use the vaccine, but even an approval for optional use is worrisome considering the vaccine had only just been approved for human trial, Reuters reports.

CanSino's vaccine has already gone through two phases of experimentation, and had been deemed safe and showed some efficacy in humans, CanSino said. But it would have to undergo a third phase of widespread human testing to actually be deemed an effective and safe vaccine. It had just won approval to begin that third phase of trials both in China and abroad, with human trials scheduled to begin in Canada. But the Chinese military also moved to skip that necessary safety phase, allowing the use of the vaccine for the military for one year, CanSino said.

"The Ad5-nCoV is currently limited to military use only and its use cannot be expanded to a broader vaccination range without the approval of the Logistics Support Department," CanSino told Reuters, citing the department that okayed the military use in the first place. The vaccine is one of eight under development in China that were approved for human trial, and was developed jointly with China's Academy of Military Science.