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Coronavirus: China has been Vaccinating Key Workers and Border Officials Since July

Coronavirus: China has been Vaccinating Key Workers and Border Officials Since July

The Chinese government has been administering a coronavirus vaccine candidate to selected groups of key workers for more than a month, a senior health official has said. 

Zheng Zhongwei, the head of the National Health Commission’s science and technology centre, told state media organisation CCTV on Sunday the government had authorised “emergency use” of a Sars-Cov-2 vaccine for workers including health workers and border officials.

Health workers and border officials were chosen to be among the first people to receive the inoculations as they were more likely than most to get infected with the coronavirus, Zheng said.

There were no details on which particular vaccine candidate was used or how many people received it, but Zheng said it had been administered in line with the law, under powers that allow limited use of the unapproved vaccines during serious public health events.

“Most cases in China now are imported, so border officials are a high-risk group,” he said.

In the future, the vaccination programme would be rolled out to include people who worked in the transport and service industries and at wet markets, so as to create an “immunity barrier”, he said.

Zheng did not say how many people had been given jabs, but said the next step was to extend the scheme to many more people before the onset of autumn and winter and a possible spike in infections.

The NHC began considering the use of the emergency rule in April but it was not until June 24 that it was given approval to implement it.

A day earlier, China National Biotec Group (CNBG) was given the green light to begin phase three testing of one of its vaccine candidates in the United Arab Emirates. The state-owned company has also been approved to carry out trials in Bahrain, Peru, Morocco and Argentina.

Yang Xiaoming, chairman of CNBG, said 20,000 people had taken part in the overseas trials and the preliminary results were positive.

“The situation regarding the 20,000 volunteers [after being inoculated] shows our vaccines are safe and there have been almost no reports of people suffering side effects,” he said in the same interview as Zheng.

On the subject of pricing, Zheng said all Chinese Covid-19 vaccines would be “affordable to the public”.

“President Xi [Jinping] said Covid-19 vaccines are public health products. One principle of public health products is that they are priced not based on the supply and demand relationship, but on cost plus a reasonable level of profit,” Zheng said.

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