World's first hepatitis E vaccine now available in China

Hecolin, the world's first hepatitis E vaccine, is now available in Xiamen, China, to protect against the liver-damaging virus that affects approximately 20 million people around the world.

Hecolin was developed by researchers from Xiamen Innovax Biotech Co., Ltd., and Xiamen University.

Gao Yongzhong, the general manager of Xiamen Innovax, said that Hecolin is available at Xiamen's centers for disease control and prevention, community clinics, hospitals and other medical organizations for approximately $22.50, Xiamen Daily reports.

"I have participated in the whole research and development process of the vaccine," Yongzhong said, according to Xiamen Daily. "The vaccine is just like our child, and we witnessed it grow up from the test tube to finally becoming a product for sale. We were so excited when the vaccine was finally launched."

The vaccine was approved for production in December 2011 and went to market in China late last year after 14 years of research, clinical trials and development. Xiamen Innovax is now working with the Chinese government to offer the vaccine to high-risk members of the public. It is also working with international organizations to distribute the vaccine to countries in need.

On January 19, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering recognized the vaccine as one of the top 10 advancements in domestic technology and science for 2012, Xiamen Daily reports.