More than one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered across China by the weekend, making it a major milestone for a country that continues to roll out the world’s largest inoculation drive against the deadly disease.
China’s vaccination programme has picked up speed in recent months as it tries to protect itself from new variants of the infection coming from abroad.
The country’s national health commission (NHC) announced the milestone on Sunday, saying the last 100 million doses were given in just five days. The NHC, however, did not say how many people had been fully vaccinated, with most of the vaccines given in two doses.
“China accelerated its pace of free Covid-19 vaccinations for the whole nation since late March. It took China 25 days to climb from 100 million doses to 200 million doses, 16 days to increase from 200 million to 300 million, and six days from 800 million to 900 million,” Xinhua news agency reported, quoting updates from the NHC.
China’s state media called the government’s effort the largest “vaccination drive in the history of New China”, referring to the start of the Communist Party of China’s governance in 1949.
Globally, more than 2.59 billion doses have been administered across 180 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg.
Earlier this month, China’s foreign ministry had said that more than 200,000 foreigners in the country have been vaccinated.
At least 70% of the target population in China is expected to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of this year, said Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the NHC. The large-scale vaccination campaign carried out across China has also shown that Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccines are safe, Zeng claimed. A total of 21 Covid-19 vaccines entered clinical trials in China since last year.
“So far, four vaccines have been granted conditional marketing approval and three have been authorised for emergency use within the country,” the Xinhua report said. Chinese regulators haven’t approved any non-Chinese vaccines so far.
Also, China has given vaccine aid to nearly 90 countries and four international organisations besides exporting jabs to at least 40 countries. China has already provided more than 350 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccines overseas, according to Mao Junfeng, an official from the industry and IT ministry had said earlier this month.