65m vaccine doses administered in China; production capacity will meet domestic and overseas needs: officials
Published: Mar 15, 2021 02:16 PM
Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT

A total of 64.98 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in China, with the country's current production capacity large enough to meet the combined demand of domestic vaccinations, foreign aid and exports, Chinese officials said on Monday.

Experts reached by the Global Times noted that China is not falling behind in inoculations considering the current low virus transmission and a yet-to-come high-risk season. China's vaccines distributed overseas could ease pressure from imported infections.

Li Bin, deputy head of China's National Health Commission, said at a press conference on Monday that 64.98 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in China.

China has a relatively low inoculation rate, 4.6 vaccines have been administered among every 100 people. The number is 32 for the US, 66 for the UAE and more than 108 for Israel, one of the fastest countries in the vaccination rollout globally.

The comparison has sparked domestic concerns over whether China is falling behind in the vaccination race and will face an immunity gap, but officials and experts reassured the public that China's pace is appropriate.

Infections have not slowed down significantly in the US even though it spared no efforts accelerating inoculation, vaccine analysts said, noting vaccines play a bigger role in reducing symptoms and the rate of the critically ill than completely preventing infections. 

Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccine expert, noted China's epidemic control achievements gave the country a wider window for vaccination. Production capacity increased quickly in recent months and will soon reach 10 million a day. 

Tao also noted a daily vaccination brief could soon be rolled out for the public to understand the vaccination progress. 

Tian Yulong, chief engineer of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, also confirmed at the same press conference that China's current production capacity can meet the combined demand of domestic inoculation, foreign aid, and exports. 

"Vaccines distributed to other countries also help ease the pandemic and lower the risk of imported infections to China," Tao said. 

A Beijing-based expert on immunology who requested anonymity told the Global Times that apart from inoculation speed, review on finished vaccinations is also important to see if the COVID-19 vaccines need to be adjusted or optimized, considering the protection period remains to be observed and some serious adverse effects have been reported overseas.

Some European countries have suspended the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca after reports of severe blood clotting among recipients. But the company claimed there is no link between the vaccine and increased risk of clotting. 

China kicked off its mass inoculation campaign in January. Gao Fu, director of China's CDC said that China is capable of vaccinating 70 to 80 percent of its population between the end of 2021 and mid-2022 to reach herd immunity.