A staff member wearing protective gear is seen at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province in China Photograph:( Reuters )
China is set to begin vaccinations against COVID-19 over the winter and spring among “key groups”, and then moving on to the general population
China is set to begin vaccinations against COVID-19 over the winter and spring among “key groups”, and then moving on to the general population, according to a senior health official on Saturday.
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) Zeng Yixin and the director of State Council’s vaccine R&D working group. The official warned that the number of cases were under pressure due to dropping temperatures, with fears of the toll going up.
"During the winter and spring seasons, carrying out novel coronavirus vaccination work among some key population groups is of great significance to epidemic prevention," he said during a briefing.
The first case of COVID-19 was found in Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei, and since then the country has attempted to build herd immunity against the virus.
It is attempting to inoculate high risk groups like workers in the cold chain industry, healthcare, customs, public transport, and markets.
China claims this to be the first part of a “step-by-step programme”, according to the official. The country so far has two candidate vaccines - one from Sinopharm, and the other from Sinovac Biotech Ltd as part of its emergency use authorisation for the vaccines earlier in July. It had targeted groups with the highest risk of infection including healthcare workers and border inspectors.
Besides these, China has approved another vaccine for military use. This one comes from CanSino Biologics Inc, and has not been approved for use among the general public.
The NHC official who heads China’s coronavirus vaccine team - Zheng Zhongwei had claimed that China had given over a million emergency doses of COVID-19 to people from high-risk groups since July, and that “no serious adverse reactions” had been seen so far.
"For the vaccines where we are moving quite fast, the number of cases required for the interim stage of Phase III clinical trials have already been obtained," Reuters quoted Zheng as saying, without specifying which products.
Chinese authorities have submitted the vaccine data to the medical products regulator, which is set to approve the vaccines once they meet all the conditions, he said.