World’s first Hepatitis E vaccine now available in China

For high-risk members of the public

The world’s first hepatitis E vaccine, named Hecolin, is now available in the Chinese market, following a two-year clinical trial involving 113,000 volunteers in east China’s Jiangsu Province. Developed by Xiamen University and Xiamen Innovax Biotech Company in southeast China’s Fujian Province, the vaccine was approved for production in December 2011.

At a launch in the city of Xiamen, Gao Yongzhong, general manager of Xiamen Innovax, said the company would be working with the government to offer the vaccine to high-risk members of the public. He added that the firm was also in talks with international organisations to introduce the vaccine to other countries.

In China, hepatitis E is now the most common type of hepatitis infecting adults. The World Health Organisation has estimated that 20 million people around the world are infected by the virus each year. As hepatitis C infections have been increasing, it has brought a great burden and threat for patients and society.

According to figures from a survey conducted by the Wu Jieping Medical Foundation and Bristol-Myers Squibb, hepatitis C patients in China spent £807.62 ($1,290) on average, for a stay in hospital, taking up 34.25% and 117.7% of people’s annual income in urban and rural areas, respectively.