Riding an ultra-efficient spring vaccination drive, China has now administered more than one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, according to an announcement on the National Health Commission’s (NHC) official website on Sunday.
It is quite a milestone for a country that got off to a slow start with its mass vaccination drive.
According to data from the NHC, the vaccination rate sped up rapidly from the beginning of May onward – 500 million jabs were given between May 23 and June 19.
China’s doses account for nearly 40% of the 2.5 billion total shots administered around the world, as cited by CNN.
Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the NHC, expects at least 70% of China’s population to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, based on the trajectory of China’s vaccination drive, a 70% vaccination rate should be attainable by early fall.
China’s biggest cities have higher vaccination rates, including the capital city, which has fully vaccinated more than 80% of its adult residents, as cited by Bloomberg. Meanwhile, only 4% of Tokyo’s residents have finished inoculation.
CGTN reported that China is currently conducting clinical trials for 21 COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Four have been granted conditional approval, and three are authorized for emergency use in the PRC.
On May 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The move allowed countries to “expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer” the Sinopharm vaccine. The emergency list includes all the big name vaccines such as Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio and Moderna vaccines.
While China’s rapid rate of vaccination is a positive development in the fight against COVID-19, it likely won’t help open the country’s borders anytime soon.
One of the country’s top health officials said that even with 80% of the population fully vaccinated, a large inflow of travelers would pose a serious risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.
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[Cover image via @廖小利/Weibo]