|(CNN) - The global push to develop a coronavirus vaccine is gathering pace, but much to the likely frustration of US President Donald Trump, caution exercised by American drug makers and regulators has put China out in front ... for now.
Moderna, a leading coronavirus vaccine maker, said this month it will not be ready to apply for emergency use authorization until at least November 25. Meanwhile, the US-based trial sites of another frontrunner, AstraZeneca, have placed testing on hold after a participant in Britain developed a serious illness last month, further undermining Trump's hopes that a vaccine would be ready in time for Election Day on November 3.
The stringent US safety protocols have shifted the so-called vaccine race in China's favor, where -- for better or worse -- political will holds a much larger sway over state, commercial and individual actions, potentially bending rules or norms as needed.
China's leader Xi Jinping has repeatedly urged the country's scientists to accelerate the research and development of coronavirus vaccines. Chinese drug makers have also been told to treat their work as an "important political task" -- and they are doing everything they can to follow that directive.
And while the successful development of a vaccine would not preclude other countries from continuing to pursue their own research, China has placed special emphasis on being first.
As of October, four of the 10 Covid-19 vaccine candidates that have entered Phase 3 clinical trials worldwide -- the last and most important step of testing before regulatory approval is sought -- were developed by Chinese companies.
Two are from China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a unit of state-owned pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). Another candidate, CoronaVac, was developed by drugmaker Sinovac Biotech, with the remaining one jointly developed by the ...