COVID-19 vaccination in China speeds up following new round of infections this year

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China has sped up its vaccination rate with daily average inoculation of more than 10 million doses this past week in response to local outbreaks of the disease.

More than 450 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in China so far according to recent data from the National Health Commission.

After initial hesitancy due to various reasons, vaccination rates gained pace after the gradual increase in vaccine production but accelerated after fears of a coronavirus resurgence emerged in the world’s most populous country earlier this month after Anhui and Liaoning provinces reported locally transmitted infections on May 14.

They were the first locally transmitted cases since April when a Covid-19 cluster emerged in Yunnan in south-western China, linked to an outbreak in neighboring Myanmar.

As per media reports, there was a sharp rise in enthusiasm for vaccination in both provinces after it was reported none of the 18 new cases had been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, a leading Chinese disease control expert has said that China’s current Covid-19 vaccines are effective against the coronavirus variant first detected in India.

As reported by state media, Shao Yiming, an expert with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in Beijing, China has been paying close attention to the variant of the coronavirus detected in India, and is conducting research and accumulating data on it.

The virus will continue mutating, therefore more changes will appear, he said. He added that China is capable of putting new, effective vaccines into use if new variants render current vaccines ineffective.

China, according to agency reports, has five vaccines in use in its mass immunization campaign: Three inactivated-virus vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm, a one-shot vaccine from CanSino, and the last one from CDC in partnership with Anhui Zhifei Longcom.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation gave the green light to China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, approving the vaccine to be rolled out globally.

It is the first vaccine developed by a non-Western country to get the UN health agency’s backing though China has already vaccinated millions of people at home, since last year, and in dozens of other countries with it.

“On the basis of all available evidence, WHO recommends the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks.

Vaccine efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalised disease was estimated to be 79%, all age groups combined,” the WHO said.

China has also promised to supply 10 million vaccines to Covax, a global vaccine distribution campaign backed by the WHO which was halted till now due to lack of approval from WHO.

China had provided vaccine assistance to over 80 countries, three international organisations and exported jabs to over 50 countries, the Chinese foreign ministry said earlier this week.

“We are also working with over 10 developing countries including Egypt and the UAE on technological transfer and cooperative production to quickly advance large-scale production of vaccines,” ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said.