Wednesday, January 27, 2021

22.77 Million Vaccines Already Administered in China as Nation Rushes to Inoculate 50 Million People Before Festival

By Liu Caiyu

Jan 27, 2021 09:13 PM

Photo: VCG

China has administered 22.77 million coronavirus vaccine doses, Chinese authorities said on Wednesday, marking a step closer for China to reach the target of inoculating 50 million people before the Chinese New Year.

China's vaccination scheme is rolling out smoothly and the number of people willing to be inoculated is increasing. China has administered 22.77 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to people in the frontline and high-risk positions as of Tuesday, Zeng Yixin, deputy head of China's National Health Commission (NHC) said at a press conference Wednesday.

Feng Duojia, president of the China Vaccine Industry Association, believes "China is likely to reach the scheduled target since the country is deploying the vaccination in an orderly manner and vaccine producers also have sufficient supplies to guarantee the country to reach this goal."

Apart from vaccination for high-risk groups, some regions in the country are making the vaccines available for ordinary people, thus the inoculation speed is expected to accelerate in the following days ahead of Spring Festival that falls on February 12, Feng told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Health authorities from North China's Shanxi Province said the mass vaccinations on high-risk groups will be finished before February 5 and inoculations will be open to the general public after, reports said. 

Some Chinese authorities previously said China was planning to vaccinate 50 million people before Chinese New Year to curb the spread of the virus.

However, Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based medical expert on vaccines, told the Global Times that vaccinating 50 million people is never a rigid goal that China intended to reach but a rough estimate on the number of people who ideally should receive vaccines against coronavirus to generate an immune protection barrier among high-risk groups.

Tao believes that the target of vaccinating 50 million may not be realized before Spring Festival as 22.77 coronavirus vaccine doses is less than half of the scheduled number. 

"China will continue to push forward this vaccination scheme for high-risk people and then to the general public. The second half of 2021 would see all Chinese who would like to receive vaccines get a dose. Building herd immunity is something that should be considered in the second half of 2021," Tao said.

Zeng said that the NHC is pushing for vaccination based on the principle of inoculating high-risk-post people first. The campaign will mainly focus on people working in coastal port regions, transportation venues, medical institutions and the public service industry.

The Chinese official also stressed the safety of vaccines. "Every dose should be traceable. Working staff must inform people of contraindications before injecting them and monitor them for any adverse reactions," Zeng said.  

While China rolls out its vaccination campaign, the government is encouraging people to stay in the city where they work for the Spring Festival, saying "Chinese people's choice to stay for Spring Festival will provide the biggest support for the country's anti-virus drive."

"Staying in your city of work for the upcoming Spring Festival is not mandatory," said Chinese officials, adding that people from high- and medium-risk regions should adopt the policy, but it is only a recommendation for people living in low-risk regions.

Local governments should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to stopping residents from returning to their hometown and provide convenience for those who need to return to their hometown.

The risk of local spread of COVID-19 remains high due to some loopholes in rural areas, potential imported infections, and increasing flow of people as Spring Festival draws near, Zhao Chenxi, an official with the NHC, stressed.

The number of daily imported cases in January is twice that of November last year, Chinese authorities said, indicating a severe anti-epidemic situation caused by imported cases.

To encourage people to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival in the cities where they work instead of returning to their hometown, China will increase the provision of online television programs and free online platform entertainment shows. 

Employers are encouraged to dole out extra bonus red packets to their workers, and make sure not to cut jobs in a bid to encourage people to stay put for the holiday, officials from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said.

China's daily nucleic acid testing capability has now surpassed 15 million, and overall testing capabilities could further improve if batch testing methods are adopted, Zeng Yixin said at the press conference.

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