BEIJING, China — More than one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in China by Saturday, as the country pushes ahead with the largest vaccination drive in the history of New China.
It took the country just five days to hit its most recent 100-million dose increase, according to daily updates by the National Health Commission (NHC).
Since late March, China has been accelerating the pace of free COVID-19 vaccinations for the whole nation. It took China 25 days to climb from 100 million doses to 200 million doses, 16 days to increase from 200 million to 300 million, and six days from 800 million to 900 million.
The large-scale vaccination campaign carried out across China has shown that Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are safe, said Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the NHC, noting that the incidence rates of common side effects and abnormal reactions caused by the vaccines were both below the average figures reported by various vaccines included in the country’s regular vaccination plans in 2019.
According to Zeng, at least 70 percent of the target population in China is expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of this year.
A total of 21 COVID-19 vaccines have entered clinical trials in China since last year. So far, four have been granted conditional marketing approval and three have been authorized for emergency use within the country.
Joint efforts for herd immunity
Equipped with 21 inoculation desks on three floors of a building, the inoculation site of the Guangyi International E-Commerce Industrial Park is the largest one in Haizhu District of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, which has seen a resurgence of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases recently.
About 8,000 residents come to the site daily on average, with as many as 10,000 doses administered in a single day, said Yang Huiyan, a head nurse in charge of the site. Nine local hospitals have sent medics there to help with inoculations.
“Concerted efforts are needed to achieve herd immunity,” said Yang. “Vaccination benefits all of us, so we must work together.”
Zhong Mingtao, 18, has been working at the park as a volunteer to help with the vaccination. “Although the work is tiring, I hope people can get inoculation as soon as possible.”
Zeng Xiuming, a marketing employee with a local company, received her second jab on Saturday afternoon.
“My job requires me to meet many people. The vaccination makes me feel at ease,” she said.
As of 6 p.m. Saturday, Guangdong had vaccinated nearly 66.7 million people, with a total of 99.23 million doses administered. Many of them received two doses.
China’s nationwide vaccination campaign is open to people aged over 18. The oldest vaccine recipient is over 100.
Tan Fang, 77, received the second jab on Saturday at a health service center in the Danan Residential Community in Shenyang, capital of northeast China’s Liaoning Province.
“Now that the two doses have been administered, I can go out for some sightseeing,” said Tan.
Li Zhe, head of the center, said that, compared with concentrated makeshift vaccination sites, health service centers in communities see more elderly people coming for their shots.
“The elderly people and those with disabilities are given priority for vaccination,” she said.
The country has also approved the emergency use of domestic inactivated vaccines on people aged 3 to 17. Detailed policies will be formulated for the inoculation of this age group based on the specific COVID-19 situation.
China-developed vaccines not only benefit people at home but also help the world in the fight against the pandemic.
The country now has two of its vaccines validated for emergency use by the World Health Organization. It has supplied more than 350 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines abroad, consisting of donations to more than 80 countries and exports to over 40 countries, official data from early June shows.
Mao Junfeng, an official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said that, so far, three Chinese enterprises have carried out joint vaccine production with eight countries, with discussions taking place on cooperation with 10 countries.
“Chinese vaccines are playing an increasingly greater role as the country works to fulfill its commitment of making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good,” said Zhong Nanshan, China’s top epidemiologist.