News is hard to get out of China, but the communist nation is reportedly rolling out a massive COVID-19 vaccination effort.
“Provincial governments across China are placing orders for experimental, domestically made coronavirus vaccines, though health officials have yet to say how well they work or how they may reach the country’s 1.4 billion people,” the Associated Press reported on Sunday.
“Even without final approval, more than 1 million health care workers and others in China who are deemed at high risk of infection have received experimental vaccines under emergency use permission. There has been no word on possible side effects,” the AP wrote.
Chines officials say they’re ramping up. “We must be prepared for large-scale production,” Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who has overseen much of the country’s response, said Wednesday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. “Emergency use for high-risk groups such as port workers needs to be completed this year.”
“Those in the high-risk category include health care workers, border control staff and essential workers such as those in delivery and transport and people who work at food markets, the National Health Commission said earlier,” Xinhua reported. “An estimated 18.5 million people are in high-risk jobs, including health care workers and people in contact with overseas arrivals, and there are some 31 million essential workers, according to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Sun also said there are 14 vaccines developed from five technological routes that have entered clinical trials, five of which have entered phase-III clinical trials. Health officials have said that China will be able to manufacture 610 million doses by the end of this year and ramp up to 1 billion doses next year, the AP reported.
Beijing claims it found a “a new type of pneumonia” in the central city of Wuhan in late December, saying a new strain of coronavirus was identified on Jan. 7. But a Harvard Medical School study, published on June 9, “used satellite imagery of Wuhan parking lots to show a spike in hospital visits beginning as early as August 2019, four months before the outbreak officially began,” Reuters reported. “It also identified a surge in search-engine queries for ‘cough’ and ‘diarrhea’ in August.”
Three vaccines are currently in the works in the U.S. Biotech firm Moderna on Nov. 30 moved to win emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer filed their application on Nov. 20. Moderna said its data showed their vaccine was 94.1% effective in its late-stage clinical trial, just under Pfizer’s efficacy rate of 95%.
A third vaccine is also in the pipeline. AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Nov. 23 said their jointly created COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be up to 90% effective and the makers claims will be easier to distribute.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Dec. 2 voted to direct that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to get the shots in the initial rollout — once federal regulators authorize use of a vaccine. The recommendation was approved CDC Director Robert Redfield, but governors will eventually have the final say on who gets the vaccine first.
The FDA’s vaccine advisory committee is set to meet Dec. 17 to review data from the two companies
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