Vaccine to reach public soon

BEIJING: Vaccinations for the general public against Covid-19 are expected to start around the Spring Festival, which begins on Feb 12, China’s health authorities said.

By last Saturday, China had administered over nine million shots of the Covid-19 vaccine to people deemed at high risk of contracting the disease, including workers in customs, medicine and healthcare, the cold chain industry, public transportation, and produce and seafood markets, and no severe abnormal reactions were reported, said senior health officials.

As vaccine production ramps up, the rollout will gradually cover other demographics including the general public, Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said during a news briefing held by the State Council Information Office on Saturday.

The public can receive the vaccine free of charge, he added.

China began mass vaccination of prioritised personnel on Dec 15 with an inactivated vaccine developed by State-owned Sinopharm Group.

The two-dose vaccine, created by the China National Biotec Group, a subsidiary of Sinopharm, was approved for emergency use in China in July.

On Dec 30, it became the first anti-Covid vaccine to receive conditional approval from the country’s top drug regulator after showing 79.34% efficacy in the ongoing stage-3 clinical trials.

The trials are taking place in several countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which both approved the vaccine last month, according to the company.

“Since China approved emergency use of the vaccine in July, more than a million doses have been administered with no serious side effects. Around 70,000 people who got vaccinated have gone to high-risk countries and no serious infection was reported, ” it said.

Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said the two-dose vaccine may induce minor reactions, such as redness, swelling or pain around the injection site, which is normal for all vaccines. — China Daily/ANN

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