Authorities in China declared Friday that the coronavirus vaccine campaign had reached 2 billion doses, but heavy-handed methods used to increase inoculation rates are causing resentment in certain regions.
An official from the National Health Commission stated at a news briefing Friday that more than 889 million individuals had been completely vaccinated as of Thursday, with more than two billion injections of locally made Covid-19 given in total.
Regarding the proportion of its population that has been completely vaccinated, China is on a level with the United Kingdom and ahead of the United States.
China now accounts for 40% of the 5 billion injections worldwide, only ten weeks after passing the first billion mark in June.
China’s vaccination intensification
Since July, when the highly infectious Delta strain sent illnesses soaring throughout the country, China’s drive to increase vaccination rates has intensified. On Friday, health authorities declared that the epidemic had been “essentially brought under control,” with case counts down for 11 days in a row since August 16. However, the immunization campaign has continued apace.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Tuesday the government has purchased 10 million more doses of China-made Sinovac jabs as part of the intensified rollout of the national Covid-19 vaccination program.https://t.co/KxOxt5OeZF
— The Manila Times (@TheManilaTimes) August 26, 2021
China’s top respiratory specialist, Zhong Nanshan, stated at a health conference last Friday that the nation aims to completely vaccinate 80 percent of its 1.4 billion people by the end of the year.
The elderly, children, and inhabitants of China’s vast rural regions have been targeted in the country’s newest immunization drive – hard-to-reach populations that had not been covered in previous vaccine rounds.
A 111-year-old peasant in Guangdong’s southern region pulled up his sleeve last week to get a coronavirus vaccination injection. Officials organized house pickups and bussed people to immunization locations in some rural regions.
Vaccination should be optional, according to the National Health Council. However, under pressure to get more guns into the hands of citizens, local governments are increasingly resorting to coercion to guarantee compliance.
“Failure to meet these goals will result in penalties, providing an incentive for local government officials to use harsh tactics to get things done,” he added.
Multiple municipal administrations have told local authorities they would be “seriously held responsible” if diseases spread among the unvaccinated, indicating the growing pressure. As officials strive to achieve vaccination goals, some local officials have complained that people have been enticed across borders to immunization sites in adjacent towns by financial incentives.
Despite rising immunization rates, there are no indications that China would loosen its stringent zero-Covid policy or open its borders any time soon.
When China’s immunization rate reaches 80 percent, Zhong, the country’s top respiratory specialist, believes the country would have “effective herd immunity.”
However, given the lower effectiveness rates of Chinese vaccinations and the global outbreak of Delta variant breakthrough infections, Huang of the Council on Foreign Relations remains dubious.
Daily instances have risen in recent weeks in Israel, where 78 percent of people aged 12 and above have been completely vaccinated (primarily with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine), and officials have begun to give booster doses to older residents.
At a news briefing on Friday, NHC official Zheng Zhongwei stated that high-risk groups, such as customs, airports, and quarantine sites employees, should be given a booster injection six months after being completely vaccinated.
On Monday, official television CCTV cautioned that the pandemic was far from over and that people should not grow complacent in their efforts to avoid epidemics.
Image courtesy of CBS News/YouTube