China claims to have given 2 billion jabs to citizens

Updated on Aug 28, 2021 02:58 AM IST

More than 889.4 million people have been fully vaccinated in China till Thursday, NHC spokesperson Mi Feng said.

In absolute figures and scale, China is far ahead of any other nation in the world.(AP)
In absolute figures and scale, China is far ahead of any other nation in the world.(AP)
BySutirtho Patranobis, Beijing

China has administered 2 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine, fully inoculating 889.4 million people in the world’s most populous country, the National Health Commission said on Friday amidst concerns over the efficacy of their domestic shots against the Delta variant.

Of the total 2 billion doses, half of them have been given in just 10 weeks, according to official figures that are sporadically released by the Chinese government. Beijing said it breached the 1 billion-mark on June 19.

In absolute figures and scale, China is far ahead of any other nation in the world. So far, China has fully vaccinated 62% of its total population, more than even countries such as Germany and the United States, that have completely inoculated over 59% and 51% of their populations respectively.

More than 889.4 million people have been fully vaccinated in China till Thursday, NHC spokesperson Mi Feng said. Continuous efforts will be made to advance the mass vaccination campaign, Mi told a press conference on Friday, warning against any laxity among people of the country.

URGENCY TO VACCINATE

After a peak in June that was followed by a slight slump in daily vaccinations, China pushed to boost inoculation rates from July, when the highly contagious Delta variant triggered its worst country-wide outbreak since last year.

On average, Beijing is currently administering 12.3 million shots per day, according to figures by Our World in Data.

At this pace, China is well on its way to fully vaccinate its 1.4 billion-population by end of the year, Beijing’s top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said at a press conference earlier this month. He previously said China was targeting to complete vaccinations of 80% of its population by the end of 2021.

The outbreak triggered in July is now under control, but authorities have kept up the inoculation campaign.

CONCERNS

Over the months, there have been questions about the China-made vaccines by -- state-run Sinopharm and privately owned Sinovac -- especially against the Delta variant, which drove the country’s July outbreak.

Several officials said many of those infected during China’s July outbreak were already vaccinated, but more details are needed.

Both of the vaccines have been approved by WHO, but there have been calls to provide data proving the jabs work against Delta.

Phase 3 trials of Sinovac-CoronaVac around the world have reported the effectiveness of vaccine between 50% and 84%. The Sinopharm shot had shown a 78.1% efficacy rate against symptomatic Covid-19 cases in Phase III clinical trials, World Health Organization data showed. However, its efficacy fell to just over 50% against preventing infections, a study conducted in Peru earlier this year. Still, officials from the South American country said the shot is acceptable by WHO standards.

WHO recommends efficacy of at least 50% against symptomatic disease before approving a vaccine.

Anecdotally, officials in countries that received Chinese doses have also hinted that the vaccines may be less effective against the Delta variant.

Indonesian officials said in June that cases of breakthrough infections were seen among doctors and medical workers who were hospitalised despite being vaccinated with Sinovac. Malaysia too announced in mid-July that it would stop using the Sinovac’s vaccine amid concerns about its efficacy.

To be sure, most vaccines developed across the world have seen their efficacy decline against the variant, but the lack of data has eroded confidence.

Zhong said in July that the vaccines are 100% effective against the Delta variant in preventing severe disease, but did not provide any data.

BOOSTER SHOTS

Chinese President Xi Jinping has also said the country will strive to provide 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to the world throughout this year and offer $100 million to COVAX, the global vaccine sharing programme.

Speaking at the NHC press conference in Beijing on Friday, Zheng Zhongwei, an NHC official, said that experts in China have recommended making booster Covid-19 doses available to some groups such as employees at higher risk of exposure to the virus and those who have weak immunity or are aged above 60.

(With inputs from agencies)

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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