How China's unapproved COVID-19 vaccine drive is putting citizens at risk

New DelhiEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Sep 30, 2020, 10:44 AM IST


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China is inoculating its own population. Chinese citizens are the guinea pigs in one of the largest human trials in the world.

The world is desperate for a vaccine for the Wuhan virus and there is not one yet but Chinese citizens are set to get a jab. 

First, the workers of state-owned companies will receive a jab, teachers, supermarket employees and more will also get a shot.

However, China's vaccines are not approved. Earlier this month, China showed off the vaccines to the world. It was a move to build global hype, by displaying the vials Beijing wanted to send a message - China has the ultimate cure to the Wuhan virus. The Communist Party wants a head start in the global vaccine race even when the Chinese vaccines haven't received a stamp of approval from the world.

China is inoculating its own population. Chinese citizens are the guinea pigs in one of the largest human trials in the world. First, employees of state-owned companies were given the vaccine, now China is expanding its program administering it to teachers, supermarket employees and people travelling to risky areas abroad being injected.

Two objectives could be driving Beijing, the Communist Party is eager to show China as a superpower in science and by winning the vaccine race, China would be able to deflect some of the criticism over the cover-up in Wuhan.

So China is injecting its own citizens, it is even offering the vaccine to the rest of the world. Chinese officials are promising more vaccines and one billion doses by next year but experts have been raising serious doubts over China's vaccine program. No other country has injected so many people with an unproven vaccine. The number of people who have already received a shot is not clear.

No one knows whether China is even tracking them to check for any harmful side effects. There is fear that Chinese vaccines could have harmful side effects or encourage behaviour that could lead to more infections but China seems to be putting politics above science.

The local government of Shaoyang city in the Zhejiang province issued a message for local officials asking them to look for more people who could be given the vaccine. On the list of potential candidates were people in schools, kindergartens and nursing homes. China's moves are dangerous, this desperation to win the vaccine race could upend the global efforts to find a cure for the Wuhan virus.