Plan to roll out vaccines in China
After months of waiting for an effective vaccine to combat the pandemic, some countries are kicking off mass COVID-19 vaccinations, bringing hope to people in hard-hit regions.
On Dec 8, the United Kingdom started its large-scale COVID-19 vaccination, with the vaccine developed by the United States pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German development partner BioNTech. On Dec 14, the US also started its COVID-19 vaccine rollout nationwide, as the death toll of the pandemic in the country topped 300,000, Xinhua reported.
China will also start getting some key groups vaccinated over the winter, Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission (NHC) said at a press conference on Dec 19.
People who engaged in the cold-chain industry, or other high-risk groups who work in healthcare, seafood markets and public transportation, will receive the vaccines first.
The vaccination program will also cover those who plan to work or study in countries and regions with higher risks of exposure to the virus, according to the NHC.
This is the first step in China's COVID-19 vaccination plan. It will help relieve the pressure in preventing and controlling imported COVID-19 cases and also lower the risk of outbreaks.
Next, with COVID-19 vaccines officially approved to enter the market and the output of vaccines improving steadily, China will put more vaccines into use. Senior citizens, people with underlying diseases and the general public will then receive vaccines.
According to Xinhua, China's COVID-19 vaccine development has entered the "final sprint", with five vaccines undergoing phase-3 clinical trials.
Over 1 million people at high risk of exposure have been given emergency vaccinations since July. Of those cases, no serious adverse effects have been reported so far, said Zheng Zhongwei from the NHC.
According to a report published on the Science magazine website, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group proved to have "outstanding efficacy data". An analysis shows the vaccine to have 100 percent effectiveness in preventing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19 and no serious safety concerns, Xinhua reported.
As for those who are not among the first groups to receive vaccines, officials at the NHC said there's no need to be anxious. "We advise the public to maintain personal hygiene and protection, including wearing masks, washing hands and practicing social distancing. These measures prove to be effective protection against the virus," said Cui Gang, a senior official with the commission.