China approves 17 COVID-19 vaccines for clinical trials to reach herd immunity by mid 2022: officials
Published: Mar 05, 2021 12:37 AM
Vaccine Photo: VCG

Vaccine Photo: VCG

China will reach herd immunity as soon as the mid of 2022, Gao Fu, director of China’s CDC and member of the 13th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told media on Thursday while the country accelerates its mass vaccination program.

China has to vaccinate 70 to 80 percent of its population to reach herd immunity and this target could be achieved as soon as the middle of next year, Gao told media on Thursday, the opening day of the fourth session of the 13th CPPCC.  

China is ramping up efforts to vaccinate 560 million people, or 40 percent of China's population, by the end of June, and another 330 million people will be vaccinated by the end of the year, covering 64 percent of the total population, the Global Times has learned.

Beijing authorities have said that they would gradually expand local vaccination programs to include more groups like the elderly people. 

Data on the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines on more groups are being collected, Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told media on Thursday. 

“We will include more groups in the vaccination program as soon as it is approved by the relevant authorities,” she said.

China has approved 17 COVID-19 vaccine candidates for clinical trials, Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the fourth annual session of the 13th National People’s Congress, said on Thursday.  

While accelerating its domestic vaccination program, China is donating vaccines to over 60 countries in need. Over 40 countries, mostly developing countries, have purchased or are in discussion to purchase Chinese vaccines, according to Zhang.

China is also providing 10 million doses to COVAX, an initiative led by the World Health Organization, Zhang said.

Distributing vaccines in an equitable manner, and in particular ensuring that developing countries can get affordable, effective and safe vaccines, requires the international community to work together, Zhang said. 

He noted that China’s effort to promote international cooperation against COVID-19 is not driven by any geopolitical agenda. It aims to protect more people’s lives, safety and health.

As to worries over the period of protection of COVID-19 vaccines, Pang explained that the vaccines have been used for only six months and we just have data for that period but it does not mean that the protection is limited to six months. 

“The relevant departments continue to collect data on the antibody levels of the vaccinated people and are closely monitoring the protective effectiveness of the vaccine,” Pang said, noting that it requires long-term observation to determine the duration of vaccine protection. 

The Department of Health in Hong Kong reported on Tuesday night the death of a local 63-year-old man who developed shortness of breath two days after being vaccinated, triggering concerns over the standards for recipients.

As to the recommendations to the public, Pang said that people with chronic diseases can receive the COVID-19 vaccine if symptoms can be controlled with drugs and they have a stable and good physical condition. “In contrast, vaccination is not recommended if you are in the acute phase of any disease,” she added.

People with allergic symptoms that are not serious can wait to take the vaccine after the symptoms disappear. Vaccines are not recommended to those with a serious allergy history, especially with adverse reactions, Pang said, noting that people have to clarify their physical conditions to doctors before taking the vaccine. 

“The incidence rate of adverse reactions after vaccination is really low,” Pang said. 

According to Pang, most of the recipients would not have apparent reactions, while a few would lack strength, have partial swelling and a transitory fever.  

Pang noted that Beijing authorities strictly supervise adverse reactions after vaccination through reports from recipients and monitoring.

“We pay attention to every report of adverse reaction and seriously look for potential causes to ensure the safety of vaccines,” Pang said.

Global Times