China expands supply of seasonal flu vaccine; urgent-use COVID-19 vaccinations exceed 100,000

By Leng Shumei Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/8 23:13:23

Photo: VCG

China is reportedly expanding the supply of seasonal flu vaccines this year as more people are expected to seek an inoculation in the face of a double threat from the flu and COVID-19. Newly developed COVID-19 vaccination are being administered for urgent use.

More than 15 million doses of the seasonal flu vaccine have been approved for market this year, but experts expect 50 million doses, double the number in 2019, will be approved, the Beijing News reported on Tuesday,

Approval procedures are also being accelerated, as nearly 7 million doses were approved in the first eight days of September, according to the report. 

Some Chinese cities like Shanghai, Shijiazhuang and Zhangjiakou in North China's Hebei Province and Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province also reportedly launched this year's vaccination campaign against flu earlier than usual. Zhangjiakou started offering vaccinations as early as August, according to media report.   

National authorities are preparing for the possibility that more people will want to get vaccinated against the flu this year, Lü Mengtao, operation director of Beijing Zhimed Medical Science, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The immunization rate against the flu is not very high in China, but the COVID-19 epidemic has raised awareness of vaccines, so more people will want to be inoculated this year, said Lü.

Flu vaccination usually peaks between October and November, Lü said.

While there isn't an fully approved COVID-19 vaccine, experts suggest people get a flu shot before October as there might be shortage after then.      

Experts said good hygiene habits such as handwashing and mask wearing could be more effective in preventing the flu, as was shown during the coronavirus epidemic in China. 

China's strict anti-epidemic system established during the COVID-19 epidemic would also help put regional outbreak under control timely, Lü said. 

"Usually outbreak of respiratory infectious diseases would not repeat in continuous years, there would be an interval of 10 years between each outbreak," Yang Zhanqiu, a virologist from the Wuhan University, told the Global Times. 

China has been providing urgent use of COVID-19 vaccines as of July 22. 

Yin Weidong, CEO of Chinese vaccine developer Sinovac Biotech Ltd, told the media that it is estimated that some 10,000 people - including medical workers, people who have to go abroad for work and vaccine industry employees - have received an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine Sinovac developed for urgent use.  

Yin himself, along with up to 3,000 Sinovac employees, have received the vaccine, Yin was reported saying.  

The China National Biotec Group (CNBG), another Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developer, announced Monday that more than 100,000 vaccinations have been given and none of the people who received two inactivated vaccines it developed have shown adverse reactions. 

"Tens of thousands of people accepted our vaccines before going abroad for working. They have not been infected in the past months even in places where the epidemic is serious, which proves our vaccines' efficacy, reads the company's announcement.  

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