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A nurse administers a dose of Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccine. Covid-19 at a clinic in Shanghai, China on April 3.

Photographer: Qilai Shen / Bloomberg

Photographer: Qilai Shen / Bloomberg

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China Steps Up Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign, Aiming To Be Twice As Fast As The United States By Pressuring Communist Party Members, Bank Workers And College Staff To Get Vaccinated , as the late deployment threatens to undermine the advantage it gained by effectively wiping out. the virus.

The inoculation effort has intensified considerably in recent weeks, with China now administering an average of 5 million doses per day compared to less than a million at the start of the year. While this is a significant increase, it translates to 5 doses per 100 people, compared to 25 in the United States and 56 in Israel, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.

A Covid-19 vaccination site at the gymnasium of the Guangxi Sports Center in Nanning on March 29.

Photographer: Yu Jing / China News Service / Getty Images

Like other countries in the Asia-Pacific region that have crushed the coronavirus, China faces significant hurdles in its vaccination campaign, as people do not see the same urgent need to be vaccinated as those still struggling. against Covid-19. However, the prospect of other countries – especially geopolitical rivals like the United States – obtaining collective immunity and reopening their economies and borders sooner hardens determination to speed up vaccinations in China.

“It will challenge the success of China’s Covid response if developed countries reopen each other and China still tries to keep the virus out,” said Yanzhong Huang, director of the Center for Global Health Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Accelerating

China caused a surge in Covid vaccination by increasing the pressure

Source: National Health Commission

The China Center for Disease Prevention and Control increased its vaccination target earlier this month and now aims to inject up to 560 million people, or 40% of its vast population, by the end of the month of June. That means China will need to distribute some 460 million doses over the next three months, more than twice the target set by US President Joe Biden for roughly the same period.

“ From dominant heights to hollows ”

Just as some in the United States are eligible for donuts after vaccination, part of China’s approach to getting people to get vaccinated is to hand out freebies.

A poster in downtown Beijing, for example, says residents over 60 are entitled to a basket of eggs after being vaccinated. The Daxing district, home to large tech companies, attracts locals by offering them shopping coupons. On one of these vouchers, slogans encourage people to answer the call to get vaccinated to ensure Covid’s ultimate victory.

The accelerated deployment is also accompanied by an increasingly strong propaganda campaign that increasingly links vaccination with maintaining national pride and China’s place on the world stage.

“Injecting the Covid vaccine is not just an option, it is the responsibility and duty of every Chinese citizen,” according to a news anchor from a program that aired on public broadcaster CCTV last week. “If we don’t rely on vaccinations to consolidate our hard-earned strengths in the fight against the virus, we could suddenly go from heights to lows.” The information clip was distributed widely by community workers on focus groups to convince people to get vaccinated.

Wuhan residents receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Hubei province on March 25.

To achieve its goals, China calls on its 92 million Communist Party members, as well as tens of millions of people employed in state-owned enterprises.

Some party members were called to meetings where they were told to get vaccinated as soon as possible in order to set an example, according to people familiar with the matter. At one of those meetings in Beijing, executives were told they had to get the vaccine, unless they got a medical exemption.

Always lagging behind

China needs to move faster to catch up with US despite dose hike

Source: United States CDC, National Health Commission of China

Employees of at least three public banks and at least one major university who would not speak officially said staff had been repeatedly asked for the vaccine and had to provide an official reason for refusal.

The Chinese State Council’s information office did not respond to requests for comment. The Commission for Supervision and Administration of State-Owned Assets, or SASAC, which oversees companies run by the Chinese government, did not immediately respond to a fax seeking comment.

Zero-tolerance Covid tactics in China now include anal swabs

“We saw populations of entire cities lining up and being tested in a matter of days, and the same kind of infrastructure could be used for mass vaccination,” said Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology and biostatistics. at the University of Hong Kong.

Indeed, China has experience with vaccination on such a large scale in the past. In 2010, the government launched a measles vaccination campaign, delivering 100 million doses to children across the country in 10 days to stem a resurgence of the disease.

Punitive measures

The question is whether the current approach, comprising small incentives and pressure from society and peers, can make China’s immunization figures high enough in the face of widespread vaccine reluctance.

Observers expect officials to need to increase incentives, for example by using punitive measures such as restricting the movement of people who have not been vaccinated.

Cowling said the government could link immunization status further to the existing health code system, which allows vaccinated people to travel more easily and possibly be exempt from certain quarantine policies.

Some local officials are already stepping up measures: A city in Hainan province posted posters warning that if people did not get vaccinated they would be blacklisted and banned from public transport, receiving government subsidies and others benefits. The city government later apologized for the severity of the notice and overturned the rules.

Lin Liwei, a 35-year-old migrant worker in Beijing, awaits her second dose of the vaccine. Lin fears that she will not be allowed to board a train to return home to Inner Mongolia if she is not vaccinated.

“If you are not vaccinated, you are away,” Lin said.

For now, the government is still waiting to see how far the existing approach can take them in the vaccination campaign, said Huang of Seton Hall. He could eventually move on to making vaccines mandatory, as some other countries like Indonesia have done.

“I don’t think China would care about eventually making vaccination mandatory given that it has implemented much more draconian measures,” Huang said. “As long as you have the vaccine supply and the ability to deliver the vaccines widely, it won’t be a problem to make vaccination a requirement.”

– With the help of John Liu, Claire Che, Dong Lyu and Jun Luo

Before he’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg terminal.

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