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UPDATE 1-China's COVID-19 vaccine output to hit 3 billion by year-end - official

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CHENGDU, China, April 10 (Reuters) - China’s will likely have produced 3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year, a National Health Commission official said on Saturday.

Zheng Zhongwei, who also heads a team coordinating the country’s COVID-19 vaccine development projects, made the comment during an industry event in the city of Chengdu in southwestern China’s Sichuan province.

“In the second half of this year, we are fully capable of meeting our own demand,” Zheng said.

Though manufacturers are rapidly expanding production capacity, it is unclear if output has risen as fast. Production tripled from Feb. 1 through late March to 5 million doses a day, the government said its most recent update.

Leading vaccine manufacturer Sinovac Biotech said this month it had doubled its annual production capacity to 2 billion doses after completing its third production facility.

The China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) also has a combined annual production capacity of at least 1.1 billion for two separate vaccines. The company has said it aims to raise capacity to 3 billion but has not specified a timeframe.

Sinopharm said on Friday that it will be able to supply 100 million COVID-19 vaccines a month starting from April. (Reporting by Roxanne Liu and David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and William Mallard)

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