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Shanghai Businesses Are Still Grappling With Hit From Lockdown

Gracell Biotechnologies couldn’t export key products because a safe was inaccessible, while an important cancer drug trial faced challenges. 

Vehicles travel along near-empty roads during a Covid lockdown in Shanghai on May 24.

Vehicles travel along near-empty roads during a Covid lockdown in Shanghai on May 24.

Source: Bloomberg

It took only a tiny detail to disrupt William Cao’s exports when Shanghai locked down its 25 million residents: a missing chop, as the official seal used by Chinese companies on legal documents is called.

As chief executive officer of Gracell Biotechnologies Inc.—a Chinese drugmaker listed on the Nasdaq and backed by foreign investors including Eli Lilly & Co. and Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.—Cao had kept the seal secure in the company safe at its headquarters in Shanghai. But when the Chinese financial capital went into deep freeze over an omicron outbreak, most residents were confined to their homes and Gracell’s executives weren’t allowed to go to the office.