A resident receives coronavirus vaccine in Linquan county, Fuyang city, in China's eastern Anhui province. (AFP)
A resident receives coronavirus vaccine in Linquan county, Fuyang city, in China's eastern Anhui province. (AFP)

China plans Covid jabs for its nationals in India

China’s “Spring Sprout” programme was launched in March and more than 500,000 Chinese nationals in over 120 countries have benefited.
By Sutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda
UPDATED ON JUN 03, 2021 05:05 PM IST

China is planning to launch its global Covid-19 vaccination campaign “Spring Sprout” to inoculate its nationals in India, state media reported on Thursday even as the number of doses it has administered domestically crossed the 700mn mark until June 2.

The Chinese embassy in New Delhi has put up an online questionnaire to collect information about administering the vaccine to Chinese nationals currently in India, the Global Times reported.

The report said the questionnaire is part of the Chinese government’s preparation to launch the “Spring Sprout” free vaccine programme in India.

But, it wasn’t clear when it would be ready for launch. The survey said it is “…to better grasp the specific situation of Chinese citizens in India and provide you with more epidemic prevention and safety services”.

China’s “Spring Sprout” programme was launched in March and more than 500,000 Chinese nationals in over 120 countries have benefited from it as of May 19, the news report said.

Chinese nationals in dozens of countries including Thailand, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Sudan, Angola, Congo, Mozambique, Syria, and Montenegro have been vaccinated under the programme.

VACCINATION IN CHINA CROSSES 700MN

Meanwhile, China administered about 22.9 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines on June 2, bringing the total number of doses administered to 704.83 million, data from the national health commission (NHC) showed on Thursday.

Despite the fastest rate of vaccination in the world, and only 1 death from Covid-19 in months, China is not taking any risk. “As long as outbreaks remain uncontrolled outside of our borders, it’s possible to have them anywhere in China, no matter how long there have been no local cases,” Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a briefing in May.

China’s sense of caution showed when new local cases were diagnosed recently in a southern province. When new virus cases surfaced in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in the past one week, said to be driven by variants first identified in India and Britain, local authorities implemented tactics polished since the first lockdown in the central Chinese city of Wuhan - stay-at-home orders for affected neighbourhoods and mass testing of residents.

The cluster, which has grown to more than 50 cases in a city of 18.7 million, also caused the cancellation of half the flights out of Baiyun airport, the world’s busiest airport in 2020.

The pace of vaccination in capital Beijing, meanwhile, has accelerated with the inoculation rate of the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for Beijing residents surpassing 80% at the end of last month.

As of last Sunday, the capital city, with a population of more than 21 million, had administered 30.95 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, with about 16.88 million residents fully inoculated, according to Beijing Daily.

The vaccination rate of the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine had reached 86.7% for people aged 18 and older. Around 14.13 million residents aged 18 and above had been fully vaccinated by Sunday morning.

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