Hong Kong CNN  — 

The Chinese government has approved the use of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine for the country’s military – the latest step in a global race to stop the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The vaccine, known as Ad5-nCoV, was jointly-developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology – part of the Chinese government’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences – and vaccine company CanSino Biologics.

In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday, CanSino announced that China’s Central Military Commission had given the vaccine a “military specially-needed drug approval” on June 25. The special permission will last for one year and will only apply to military personnel.

China has repeatedly insisted that its military has remained unaffected by the pandemic, with officials claiming that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has not recorded a single coronavirus case.

US observers, however, have cast doubt on the claims, noting that the PLA is the among the world’s largest standing armies, making it statistically unlikely that its personnel have not been exposed to the virus.