China has administered over 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses: official
Published: Jan 20, 2021 03:55 PM

Photo: Li Hao/GT

China has vaccinated more than 15 million people as of Wednesday and will expand vaccinations to include the elderly and children as the country rolls out mass vaccination against coronavirus, a Chinese health official said. 

Chinese vaccine producers including Sinopharm and Sinovac are also communicating with the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use authorization, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. 

Zhang Yuntao, vice president and chief scientist of Sinopharm’s subsidiary China National Biotec Group (CNBG), said at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday that current data shows CNBG’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccines can protect recipients from all existing coronavirus variants.

“We have observed variants in the UK, South Africa and Nigeria and have launched experiments to test the effect of the vaccines on these variants in labs,” Zhang said, noting that they would pay continuous attention to global virus variants.  

One of CNBG’s COVID-19 vaccines developed by its institute in Beijing had obtained conditional approval for domestic use on December 31. 

As of January 4, four million doses of the group’s vaccines have been administered in China for emergency use, media reported. China started giving emergency vaccinations as early as July, 2020.  

China officially announced its kick off of mass vaccinations on December 15, 2020, starting with high-risk groups, including medical workers, people who work or study overseas and cold-chain industry employees.   

Wang Bin, an official from China's National Health Commission, told the press conference that the mass vaccination program in China has been orderly, stable and successful and more than 15 million people have accepted vaccines. 

Experts in local areas are guiding local vaccination work and training local vaccination workers, according to Wang. 

The priority has been to vaccinate people working at ports, and the international transportation and service industries. The strategy will continued up to the Lunar New Year that falls on February 12, according to Wang. 

Vaccinations will be gradually expanded to children, elderly and the general public to reach larger-scale immunity, Wang said.  

Shao Yiming, an expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, previously told the media that it requires at least 85 percent of China’s population to be vaccinated to form herd immunity in the country.   

Feng Duojia, president of the China Vaccine Industry Association, told the Global Times on Wednesday that although China has made huge achievements in epidemic control and prevention, the country still has to form herd immunity through vaccinations considering the seriousness of the global pandemic. 

Some experts have warned of a potential immunity gap between China and foreign countries given the limited infections in China.

Feng said such a gap will not occur as China is promoting mass vaccination along with the global vaccination plan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said Wednesday at a routine press conference that relevant Chinese vaccine companies are holding close communication with WHO and conducting substantive cooperation on applying for pre-qualification for WHO's Emergency Use List (EUL).

Hua also noted that the Chinese government supports Chinese companies joining WHO-led COVAX, which aims to guarantee fair and equitable access to vaccines for every country in the world. 

“I understand Chinese companies including Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSino have all submitted formal application to join the initiative. The Chinese government has also been in close communication with the sponsors including WHO,” Hua said.

China on October 8, 2020, announced that it had joined the program.