China begins COVID-19 vaccination for people over 60 and with co-morbidities
MANILA – The National Health Commission of China said the government will “actively and prudently” pursue COVID-19 vaccination of people above 60 years and those with chronic disease according to the “effectiveness of its mass vaccination campaign.”
According to Wu Liangyou, an official at the national Health Commission in a recent press briefing and quoted in a statement posted at the NHCC website yesterday, Beijing and Shanghai began vaccination people above 60 years who are in good health and those with chronic disease.
China National Biotech Group vice-president Zhang Yuntao, of a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, the company will begin consultation with the National Medical Products Administration and vaccination of people aged from 3 to 17 years old will begin soon.
According to the China State Council website, some regions begun vaccinating people over 60, provided they are in good health.
A total of 74.96 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been given by midnight of March 20. The country will gradually increase the scale of its mass COVID-19 vaccination in what they described as “safe, orderly manner.”
It was learned free vaccination will be implemented based on the risks of infection of different groups and participation will remain voluntary. Experts have said vaccination remains the most effective way to control the epidemic.
In a related development, Mao Junfeng, an official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said China has continuously increased its COVID-19 vaccine production capacity to meet the demands of Chinese nationals.
“Manufacturers must make the effectiveness and safety of vaccines the top priority while increasing their production capacity,” he said.
The company began their Phase I and II clinical vaccination trials of people in the age group in Central China’s Henan Province last year.
Mr. Zhang said the trials have shown that the vaccine’s safety in the age group has met expectations and data on the effectiveness has been obtained.
According to Wang Huaqing, chief vaccination planning expert from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there is still no comprehensive Phase-III clinical trial data on vaccination of people under 18, and the data will be obtained as the clinical trials progress.
China has considered vaccinating people under 18, including newborn babies, and will continue to improve vaccination plan based on the epidemic situation and the clinical trial data, Mr. Wang said. (Melo M. Acuña)