BEIJING, 21 June — China has passed the one billion mark in the number of administered COVID-19 vaccine doses, as announced on Sunday (June 20), New Straits Times reported.
This number is more than a third of the total administered vaccine doses worldwide, as the number of shots administered globally surpassed 2.5 billion on Friday, according to an AFP count from official sources.
The Chinese National Health Commission said that as of Saturday (June 19), 1.01 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been dispensed, and according to a calculation by The Straits Times, about 100 million of those shots were administered in the past five days.
While the country is struggling with a wave of new cases in the southern province of Guangdong, Beijing is getting closer to its target of vaccinating 40 per cent of the whole population, about a 580 million people, by the end of June.
According to the report and official figures, more than 80 per cent of the capital city’s population have been inoculated, while it is still unclear how many people have been fully vaccinated in other parts of the country.
But despite the big numbers of vaccination, China is still lagging behind the United States, the United Kingdom and other leading European countries, where vaccine coverage is approaching or has exceeded half of the population, according to Bloomberg’s COVID vaccine tracker.
In December last year, China was one of the first countries in the world to allow COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use and rolled it out for front-line workers, service industry workers, and logistics workers who the authorities said were at risk of infection through surface contact.
The vaccines were later extended to the general population but got off to a slow start after successful containment of the virus meant citizens saw little urgency in getting vaccinated.
Some provinces are offering vaccines for free to encourage people to roll up their sleeves. Residents in central Anhui province have been given free eggs, while some living in Beijing have received shopping coupons, AFP reported.
China has four conditionally approved COVID vaccines, whose published efficacy rates remain behind rival jabs by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have 95 percent and 94 percent success rates respectively.
China’s Sinovac previously said trials of its shot in Brazil showed around 50 percent efficacy in preventing infection and 80 percent in preventing cases requiring medical intervention.
Sinopharm’s two vaccines have efficacy rates of 79 percent and 72 percent respectively, while the overall efficacy for CanSino’s stands at 65 percent after 28 days.
Last April, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported that the country is expected to produce more than three billion COVID vaccine doses this year.
Sources: The Straits Time/AFP/Agencies