Beijing: China on Thursday said it will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all citizens. It has granted conditional approval to the first home-grown vaccine developed by State-owned pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm.
The approval comes a day after Sinopharm said its vaccine showed 79.34 per cent efficacy and a 99.52 per cent antibody-positive conversion rate in the interim results of the Phase III clinical trials. In layman’s terms, it means the vaccine is safe and people who received two doses produced high-level antibodies.
China will comprehensively vaccinate senior citizens, people with underlying conditions, and the general public, in that order. "Vaccination of the eligible population, as extensively as possible, will gradually build an immune barrier in the whole population," said an official. He added that 60 to 70 per cent vaccination rate is needed to establish universal protection.
In terms of logistics, to form an immunology barrier, at least 700 million Chinese residents will have to be vaccinated, which means at least 1.4 billion doses are needed. China faces a similar challenge of mass vaccination, as India.
Sinopharm's inactivated vaccines have been administered to nearly one million people for emergency use in China and no serious adverse reactions have been reported. About 70,000 volunteers participated in the phase-III clinical trials in more than 10 countries.
China has already joined the COVAX, an international vaccine alliance. According to the WHO, nine candidate vaccines, including two from China, are currently being evaluated for inclusion in the COVAX facility.