China extends emergency use of its coronavirus vaccines to three more cities

By: |
October 18, 2020 8:16 PM

Three more cities in East China's Zhejiang Province are stepping up efforts to offer COVID-19 vaccines for urgent use, with priority being given to key groups in need before they can be rolled out to the general public, official media reports here said.

An employee manually inspects syringes of the SARS CoV-2 Vaccine for COVID-19 produced by Sinovac at its factory in Beijing. (AP Photo/File)

Days after joining the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) COVAX alliance to equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the world, China has stepped up the usage of its coronavirus vaccines to three more cities for urgent use.

Three more cities in East China’s Zhejiang Province are stepping up efforts to offer COVID-19 vaccines for urgent use, with priority being given to key groups in need before they can be rolled out to the general public, official media reports here said.

The cities of Yiwu, Ningbo and Shaoxing are targeting key groups with urgent need for vaccinations against COVID-19 following the city of Jiaxing, state-run Global Times quoted another daily, The Paper, as reporting on Saturday.

Earlier on Thursday, health authorities in Jiaxing announced that the city has been administering inactivated COVID-19 vaccines among high-risk groups and will gradually offer it to ordinary citizens for urgent use.

According to the report, the emergency vaccinations have officially kicked off in Yiwu, an internationally renowned manufacturing hub.

On Friday afternoon, about 20 people visited the community health centre to receive vaccinations against COVID-19 within an hour.

Most of the recipients are set to go abroad or have plans to go abroad in the near future, The Paper reported.

The Yiwu health authorities said the COVID-19 shots have arrived in the local medical system and are limited to a small part of the population in need of emergency vaccination, including frontline medical staff, personnel who ensure the city’s basic operation, and public officials who need to travel to high-risk countries and regions on official duties, the Global Times report said.

Yiwu also has no plans to make the vaccine available to the general public at the time, but may consider offering the vaccination to the public if there is an abundant supply when the vaccine is officially on the market, it said.

China in a surprise move on October 9 joined the WHO’s COVAX alliance to equitably distribute COVID-19 ending speculation that it plans to supply its vaccines to developing countries to improve its image dented by pandemic since it emerged in Wuhan in December last year.

All the 11 vaccines in China are in various stages of trials and await final approval.

The COVAX is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, once they are licensed and approved.

China has roped in more than a dozen countries to conduct the final phase trials of Chinese-made experimental COVID-19 vaccines and even started vaccinating thousands of emergency workers.

Yang Sheng, Deputy Director of the National Medical Products Administration’s drug registration bureau, said earlier that four China-developed COVID-19 vaccines have begun the final stage of human trials overseas after obtaining approval from foreign authorities.

China has been focusing on developing five types of vaccines, and each method has at least one entering clinical trials.

In total, 11 vaccine candidates are in different stages of testing, Yang has been quoted by the official media earlier.

Zheng Zhongwei, head of China’s vaccine development task force, said China’s annual capacity to make COVID-19 vaccines was expected to reach 610 million doses this year and one billion doses by 2021.

The WHO said nine candidate vaccines are currently being evaluated for inclusion in the COVAX Facility.

They include two from China, two from the US, one from the Republic of Korea, one from Britain and Northern Ireland and one global, multi-manufacturer partnership.

Two of these are in phase I trials, two are technology transfers and the remainder are at the discovery stage.

The coronavirus has so far claimed 4,634 lives with 85,672 confirmed infections in China.

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