China’s success in controlling the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a population that seems almost reluctant to get vaccinated.
The country is accelerating its vaccination campaign by offering incentives – free eggs, shopping coupons, and discounts on groceries and merchandise – to those who take a hit.
After a slow start, China is now administering millions of vaccines a day. A top government doctor, Zhong Nanshan, announced a June target of vaccinating 560 million of the country’s 1.4 billion people.
The challenge lies in part in the scale of the effort and the need to convince a population that currently feels safe from infection.
When patients first presented to Wuhan hospitals in late 2019 with fever, cough, and breathing difficulties, the government locked the city and others in Hubei province for more than two months starting in January 2020. Wuhan It later became known as the epicenter of the outbreak.
Since then, China has controlled the virus through strict border controls and quick closures whenever new outbreaks emerge.
People can dine at restaurants and the risk of infection is low, so many don’t seem in a rush to get vaccinated.
But China also wants to open up as the world seeks to return to pre-pandemic normalcy and Beijing prepares to host tens of thousands of visitors to host the Winter Olympics in February 2022.
For now, in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing, the government has relied mainly on continuous messages and gifts to convince people to get vaccinated.
Malls have offered in-store points or coupons. A temple in Beijing offered free admission to anyone who showed proof of vaccination. Shanghai is using buses in its campaign to establish mobile vaccination points.
And then there are the free eggs. “Good news. Starting today, residents 60 and older who have received their first injection are eligible for five ‘jin’ (2.5 kilograms or 5 1/2 pounds) of eggs. First come, first seen ”Read a sign for a city-run health center in Beijing.
Some people have expressed doubts about how well existing vaccines are given and how quickly they developed.
The five vaccines currently in use in China have an efficacy range of 50.7% to 79.3%, according to what the companies that developed them have said.
But researchers in Brazil found that the effectiveness of a Sinovac vaccine in preventing symptomatic infections is as low as 50.4%, close to the 50% threshold at which health experts say a vaccine is useful. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been found to be 97% effective.
`The threshold required for regulatory approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) is also 50%.
Herd immunity only occurs when a sufficient number of the population has immunity, either from vaccination or from past infections, to stop the uncontrolled spread of an infectious disease.
China may need to vaccinate at least 1 billion people to achieve this, said Wang Huaqing, a senior immunology official at the China Center for Disease Control, in an interview with state media this week.
As of early April, approximately 34 million people had received two injections and about 65 million received one dose.
Gao Fu, the head of the CDC, said last weekend that China is considering various strategies, such as mixing different vaccines to try to increase effectiveness. Outside experts say China could eventually implement other more effective vaccines, such as injections from Pfizer or Moderna.
Chinese pharmaceutical company Fosun Pharmaceutical Group partnered with Germany’s BioNTech to sell the Pfizer vaccine in China. However, it has only been approved in Hong Kong and Macao, special territories in China with their own regulatory agencies. A clinical trial is underway for approval on the continent.
Vaccination is supposed to be voluntary, but excessive efforts by some local governments and businesses prompted health officials to issue a warning this week against forced vaccinations.
A hospital in Danzhou, in the southern province of Hainan Island, issued an apology after issuing a notice to staff that read: “Those who are not vaccinated could be fired.”
In Zhejiang province, an announcement on April 2 said that all government departments, Communist Party cadres and people working in universities should take the initiative to be shot.
The national government also demanded vaccination of all residents in Ruili, a border town with Myanmar, due to a recent outbreak.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism