Home / World / China says there is no need to vaccinate the entire population against Covid-19 at this stage, only frontline workers

China says there is no need to vaccinate the entire population against Covid-19 at this stage, only frontline workers

“Since the first wave of Covid-19 appeared in Wuhan, China has already survived the impact of Covid-19 several times,” said Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) at a vaccine summit on Saturday in the city of Shenzhen, according to the state news agency China News Service.

The issue of public vaccination was to balance “risks and benefits,” he added, pointing to factors such as costs and potential side effects. There is currently no need for mass vaccination at this stage, although that could change if another major outbreak occurs, Gao said.

The policy sets China apart from many Western governments, notably Australia, which have outlined plans to introduce mass public vaccination campaigns.

Virus numbers reported from China have remained low since the spring. There have been some flare-ups ̵

1; clusters in northeastern Jilin province in May, an outbreak in Beijing in June and another in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi in July – but these have been dealt with with immediate lockdown measures and mass testing. and the epidemics were contained within a few weeks.

Gao cited these brief outbreaks as evidence of China’s effective containment measures. “The facts have shown that we have several magical weapons to respond to the outbreak,” he said, according to China News Service.

China's push to develop a coronavirus vaccine is at the forefront of the company

Any potential vaccine would instead be a priority for those on the front lines, he added: health care workers, Chinese citizens working overseas in virus hostpots, and people working in dense, high-risk environments such as restaurants, schools or cleaning services.

On Saturday, China’s National Health Commission recorded just 10 new symptomatic confirmed cases, all imported from overseas. In addition, 70 new asymptomatic cases were reported, which are counted separately, all also imported.

CNN contacted the NHC for further comment.

Global race for a vaccine

Despite Gao’s comments, China has been a major player in the global race to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

China is the largest vaccine producer and consumer in the world and can supply more than 1 billion doses of a vaccine per year from 40 manufacturers across the country, according to the China Human Vaccine Industry Report 2018-2022.

Of the more than 30 vaccines currently in human trials globally, nine are from China, most from anywhere. And four of the nine late-stage candidate vaccines were developed by Chinese companies.

Just last week, the University of Hong Kong announced that clinical trials have been approved for a nasal spray vaccine, developed in collaboration with researchers from mainland China.
China has already promoted some vaccines before their effectiveness was fully demonstrated. In late June, the country approved an experimental vaccine for use by its military. And since July, China has been using a different experimental vaccine on people working in “high-risk” jobs such as medical professionals and border agents. Neither vaccine completed phase 3 studies.

Other countries could follow suit; India’s health minister said Sunday that the government is considering granting emergency clearance to Covid-19 vaccine candidates ahead of the completion of phase 3 trials.

Gao himself was injected with an experimental vaccine in July, in a move that was “intended to bolster public confidence in vaccines,” according to the state-owned Global Times tabloid.

Experts have already said vaccination is critical for countries like China, where the percentage of infected people within the population is relatively low due to rigorous containment measures.

“Overall immunity is very low. And so vaccinations are definitely the way forward in these places,” said Ivan Hung, an infectious disease specialist at Hong Kong University School of Medicine, in late August.
China says it has been vaccinating doctors and frontier workers since July

But Gao warned Saturday that vaccine development is still a work in progress, with risks of few side effects.

“Since a Covid-19 vaccine has never been developed before, which makes this case the first ever in science, it is possible that it could induce ADE effects (antibody-dependent enhancement) like any other novelty we will have to face”, he said, according to Global Times.

ADE is when specific antibodies help a virus enter cells and replicate – basically when a treatment makes the disease worse.

“Scientific research is a very rigorous process, we have to give scientists a little more time,” he added.

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