Chinese pharmaceutical chairman Sinopharm's resignation raises controversy

"The company continues to conduct its operations normally," Sinopharm said. What is behind the resignation of Li Zhiming, followed by that of Li Hui, head of the CNCM subsidiary?

The president of state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, the only company to have so far obtained the green light from China for its COVID vaccine, resigned for "personal reasons," the company told the Hong Kong Stock Exchange this week.

Li Zhiming, ex director ejecutivo de Sinopharm. (Reuters)

In a statement, Sinopharm explained that Li Zhiming is no longer chairman of the board but that “he has confirmed that he has no disagreement with the board and that there is no issue regarding his resignation that has to draw the attention of shareholders and creditors. of the company ”.

"The company continues to conduct its operations normally," the text added.

In the same document, Sinopharm announced the appointment of Yu Qingming, the current executive director, as the new chairman of its board.

In another note to the Hong Kong public prosecutor's office, the company announced that Li Hui, CEO of one of its subsidiaries, the National Medicines Corporation of China (CNCM), had also resigned for "personal reasons," which directive, "will not have a tangible adverse effect on the operations" of that firm.

Sinopharm has jumped into the international arena due to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic, being one of the leading Chinese companies in the development of COVID vaccines in the Asian country, with two virus-inactivated serums third phase of clinical trials.

One of them, developed with its subsidiary Beijing Institute of Organic Products, obtained conditional marketing authorization on the last day of 2020, a day after it was announced that its effectiveness was 79.3%.

Pending clarification

The laconic statement that Sinopharm issued on the resignations of its CEO Li Zhiming and senior executive Li Hui, who is also a member of the strategic and audit committee, is surprising at least because it does not affect the "normal development of activities" of the company.

What do those "personal reasons" that the company cites hide? They can be interpreted as a right of reservation in which leaders generally take refuge so as not to give the real reasons for their departure, for the good of the company.

Should a captain and his ally abandon ship in the midst of a pandemic storm? Are these waivers related to the vaccine developed by Sinopharm to fight COVID-19? Do these resignations undermine confidence in this group that must provide vaccines to several countries, including Peru?

These questions deserve clarification, and for the sake of transparency, Sinopharm must put the letters on the table to clearly inform public opinion and, above all, to reassure those countries that are preparing to inoculate their citizens with their vaccine.