Beijing vaccination rate tops 80 per cent as China nears one billion shots


Beijing has given out a total of 33.4 million Covid vaccine doses. - AFP

BEIJING (Bloomberg): Beijing has fully vaccinated more than 80% of its adult residents, as the Chinese capital leads other global hubs in the race for herd immunity against Covid-19.

The city has given out a total of 33.4 million Covid vaccine doses since China kicked off its campaign to vaccinate its more than 1.4 billion people in December, according to state-run newspaper the Beijing Daily. Some 15.6 million of the city’s residents had been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday (June 16), accounting for 72.4% of its total population.

Other major centres are still working to reach those levels. New York City has inoculated 46.8% of its population, London has reached 34.8% and 34.9% have had both doses in Singapore, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.

Elsewhere in Asia, about 4% of Tokyo’s residents have completed their inoculation, and opinion surveys have indicated that large numbers of Japanese see the rollout as being too slow. Just 16.3% of people in Hong Kong are fully vaccinated as the government battles widespread hesitancy.

Still, China has not changed its rigid virus-containment playbook of largely closed borders, mandatory quarantine periods and rigorous Covid testing.

The refusal to loosen those restrictions comes amid fears from officials and health experts that new virus mutations emerging globally could puncture the immunity provided by Chinese vaccines, shown to be less effective than the mRNA shots developed by western pharmaceutical companies and widely used in rich countries.

Beijing’s success in vaccinating the majority of its population comes ahead of a celebration marking the July 1 centenary anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. While the city has seen few cases since a flare-up at a produce market last June, the effort to vaccinate residents quickly is top priority for a government wanting to maintain the narrative that it has achieved an unparalleled victory over Covid.

Beijing has been leading the government’s push for nationwide vaccination, and authorities have doled out incentives to citizens including eggs, cooking oil and even cash. Employees in the vast state sector have been pressured to get their shots.

In total, China has given out more than 923 million vaccine doses as of Tuesday. With roughly 20 million doled out per day over the past few weeks, the country is set to reach 1 billion doses sometime next week.

China has yet to start inoculating children and teenagers, though the country’s drug regulator has approved two domestically-developed Covid vaccines for these age groups.

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