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China’s urgency for Covid-19 lost in jab drive

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Beijing (AFP)

Shirley Sea has been offered three Covid-19 vaccinations through her hometown, Beijing’s residential and office areas, but her HR manager is not in a hurry.

“First of all, I want to keep an eye on the negative effects,” said Mr. Zhi, who likes many Chinese people, and seems to be willing to take a wait-and-see approach.

Through aggressive blockades and millions of mass tests, China succeeded in controlling the virus that first surfaced in the soil in late 2019.

But vaccination of the most populous countries in the world is another story.

China is still working to expand production of four domestically produced vaccines and has not yet approved foreign-made shots in the global competition for bragging rights.

For Shi, the problem is not accessibility, but lack of urgency.

“It’s not necessary for now, as China has curbed the epidemic domestically and has no plans to go abroad in the short term,” she said.

Chinese experts suggest that vaccination rates can quickly increase.

Respected pulmonologist and key national figure in the fight against Covid-19, Zhong Nanshan recently said China plans to immunize 40% of 1.4 billion people by June. I did.

To do so, the number of jabs given in China, which currently inoculates only about 3.5% of the population, needs to be significantly increased.

According to Our World in Data, a collaboration between Oxford University and a charity, this is far behind the 32.99 jabs per 100 people in the UK and 25.42 in the US.

Matthew Duchatel, director of the Asian program at the Montagne Institute, a Paris-based think tank, said:

–Health risk–

A slow pace can delay herd immunity and pose a risk to China.

There is no globally accepted standard for the proportion of populations who need to jab or develop the antibodies needed by infection to initiate herd immunity to Covid-19.

A November paper by the medical journal The Lancet estimates that the percentage of 100% effective vaccines is 60-72, and Gao Fu, head of the Chinese disease control agency, said in a comment this week that the percentage of China was 70-80%. It is said.

China’s infectious disease specialist Zhang Wenhong told a recent forum that China would need to administer 10 million doses daily for seven months to reach these thresholds. According to Mr. Naka, as of the end of February, only about 52.5 million doses had been administered.

Zhang added that the current pace is a “big concern.”

In addition to speeding up production, China is also working to ship vaccines abroad, striving to blunt foreign criticism of the virus’s first spread from the coast.

Chinese companies plan to export nearly 400 million doses, state media reports, and said the government is providing free vaccines to 53 countries.

China is sandwiched between “both vaccination requirements to achieve herd immunity and demands associated with vaccine diplomacy,” said Yanzhong Huang, Global Health Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. I will.

Mr Huang said a delay in herd immunity could mean that China would lag behind in reopening its borders.

This “may make China look bad,” he said.

-Skepticism-

In China, the issue of trust in countries with a history of drug safety scandals can delay the acceptance of vaccines by the general public.

Market research firm Ipsos discovered in January that 85% of Chinese adults were willing to be jabed, but it was unclear how soon they would be jabed.

At a Beijing clinic, doctors said the jab was provided to all staff, but many blamed it until more data on the effectiveness of the vaccine became available.

Chinese producers, unlike their foreign rivals, have not yet released detailed data.

Vaccinations in China began last year with major groups of medical staff and state-owned workers traveling abroad. This has been extended to other citizens, but most are the largest cities.

With its resources and proven ability to mobilize for large-scale efforts, China could catch up with vaccination rates as supply increases.

Zhang Yutong, an employee of the dental clinic, was in a stable stream of people flowing into a Beijing clinic after the employer arranged a jab.

She told AFP that almost two-thirds of her colleagues were offered.

“The epidemic has become a part of everyday life. It’s better to have antibodies,” she said.

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