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China Has Been Using The COVID-19 Vaccine In Its Key Workforce Since July


Border officials and health workers were the first to be injected because they were more likely to be infected, government adviser Zheng Zhongwei said.

Papua New Guinea has denied entry to Chinese nationals who have participated in the Covid-19 vaccine trial.

A senior health official said China had injected Covid-19 vaccine candidates to several groups of workers, including medical workers and border inspection officials, for more than a month.

Zheng Zhongwei, director of the National Health Commission's (NHC) Science and Technology Development Center (NHC), said in an interview with CCTV that the government had approved the "emergency use" of the vaccine from July 22.

Zheng, who is also the head of the government advisory panel on Covid-19, said the decision to start implementation on certain groups of employees was "in line with the law".

He did not say which vaccines were used or the program involved one or more vaccines. Four of the seven vaccine candidates currently in end-stage testing worldwide are produced by Chinese companies.

"Health workers and border officials have been selected as the first to receive the vaccine because they are more likely to be infected with coronavirus."

Zheng said.

"Most cases in China today are imported, so border officials are a high risk group."

he said.

In the future, an immunization program will be deployed that includes people working in the transport and services industries and in wet markets, to create a "barrier to immunity," he said.

Zheng did not say how many people have been injected, but said the next step is to expand the program to even more people before fall and winter begin and the likelihood of the infection will spike.

The NHC started considering the use of the emergency rule in April but it wasn't until June 24 that the NHC was approved for implementation.

The day before, China National Biotec Group (CNBG) was given the green light to begin phase three testing of one of its vaccine candidates in the United Arab Emirates. The state-owned company has also been approved to perform tests in Bahrain, Peru, Morocco and Argentina.

Yang Xiaoming, president of CNBG, said 20,000 people took part in overseas trials and the preliminary results were positive.

"The situation involving 20,000 volunteers after being vaccinated shows that our vaccines are safe and there have been almost no reports of people with side effects."

he said in the same interview with Zheng.

Other Chinese companies participating in the end-stage clinical trial are Sinovac - in Brazil and Indonesia - and CanSino Biologics in Russia.

CanSino products were developed in cooperation with the Military Medical Science Academy and in June were approved for use by military personnel.

On the price issue, Zheng said all Chinese Covid-19 vaccines would be "affordable to the public".

His comments came after Liu Jingzhen, president of Sinopharm - CNBG's parent company - was quoted by Shanghai Daily Newspaper on Tuesday, saying the price for a two-dose regimen. Their inactivated vaccine will be about 1,000 yuan ($ 145), many times the cost suggested by the manufacturers of alternative products.

“President Xi [Can Binh] said Covid-19 vaccine is a product of public health. One principle of public health products is that they are priced not based on supply and demand but on cost plus a reasonable profit.”

Said Zheng.

"I can tell you that the price will definitely be lower than what President Liu said."

Zhao Dahai, a professor of public health at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said Beijing's decision to approve the use of vaccines for key employees shows that they believe in the safety and effectiveness of them.

"That tells the world that we are not playing around with the lives of foreign volunteers participating in clinical trials. We're pretty sure about their safety."

Earlier, the island nation of Papua New Guinea refused entry to Chinese citizens who participated in the Covid-19 vaccine trial. 

David Manning, the head of disaster management at Papua New Guinea, denied workers access after being notified of their vaccinations, and sent a strong letter to the Chinese Ambassador, Xue Bing.

“The PNG government requires and deserves a full understanding of the (development) vaccine and the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine vaccination program carried out in China and its potential risks before requesting travel. China's calendar is approved.”

Mr. Manning said.


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