The Chinese regime recently mandated that 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines must be administered to people designated as high risk by Feb. 15, 2021—although drug companies have yet to complete testing and the vaccines have yet to be approved by regulators.
Meanwhile, Fosun Pharmaceutical announced that it had ordered 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by German drug company BioNTech, which will arrive in China in 2021. BioNTech has partnered with Pfizer to supply vaccines for the U.S. and EU markets, which were approved by their respective regulators, but the vaccine developed for the China market is still in Phase II trial.
China has five different COVID-19 vaccines under development, according to health authorities.
Currently, all five are still under phase III trial, which is a clinical trial conducted on a large group of people to see whether the drug is efficient or has side effects.
Two of them are developed in collaboration with Chinese state-run research institutes, Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Chinese authorities also recently warned that Chinese-manufactured vaccines could bring about side effects, such as headache, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Media reports surfaced that hundreds of Chinese workers overseas were infected with COVID-19 even after receiving China-made vaccines.
50 Million Vaccinations
China’s cabinet-like State Council announced at a press conference on Dec. 19 that it would arrange “high-risk groups” to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Those are: people who work in frozen foods logistics, customs border personnel, medical and disease control personnel, workers at farmer’s markets and seafood markets, and public transportation workers.
Deputy director of China’s National Health Commission Zeng Yixin clarified that the vaccines have not yet been approved to sell on the market. He said seniors and people who have health conditions that put them at risk for COVID-19 complications will receive the vaccines after they get regulatory approval.
Chinese media reported that the central government planned for 50 million vaccinations, with 25 million people receiving the first dose before Jan. 15, 2021, then receiving the second dose before Feb. 15, 2021.
A former vaccine expert at the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention immunization program Tao Lina told state-run Health Times he estimated that regulators could approve the first COVID-19 vaccine by April 2021.
Meanwhile, a health expert’s recent comment drew ire from netizens. Director of Fudan University Huashan Hospital’s department of infectious disease Zhang Wenhong suggested during a medical association meeting on Dec. 22 that state officials should get vaccinated first, claimed that it would be a scandal if a government leader were infected with COVID-19.
On Dec. 19, the State Council posted on its official website about the side effects of China-made COVID-19 vaccines.
“Common side effects mainly include headache, fever, redness or lumps at the injection site, coughing, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea,” the post said. “Negative side effects usually appear within 30 minutes of receiving the vaccine.”
The council told people they should receive vaccines at qualified hospitals and shouldn’t leave the facility for at least 30 minutes after being inoculated, as treatment may be needed to counteract the side effects.
Furthermore, the Council said the vaccine may only protect people for about six months.
“After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, everyone still needs to maintain proper private protection, such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance, washing hands frequently, and so on, because no vaccine can protect you 100 percent,” the notice said.
Eastern China’s Jiangsu Province announced on Dec. 17 that it has purchased COVID-19 vaccines developed by state-run firms Sinovac and Beijing Biological Products Institute on Dec. 15, both priced at 200 yuan ($30.58) per dose—much higher than the pricing in countries where these companies will export their vaccines, at around $2 per dose.
The mandate to administer vaccines that haven’t been approved by regulators is sparking concern. Hong Kong media portal HK01 published a commentary on Dec. 22 that urged Beijing to rethink the decision.
Inside mainland China, netizens also expressed that they were concerned about the safety of the vaccines.