According to statistics released by the National Health Commission, China had administered 1.01 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide as of June 19, achieving a landmark toward building herd immunity in the country by the end of 2021.
With the improving efficacy of Chinese vaccines and more recently imported Delta variant cases from other countries, Chinese people are now more enthusiastic about vaccination. It was reported that about 4.8 million and 12.5 million COVID vaccine shots per day were given in China in April and May respectively. However, the country is now administering an incredible total of 20 million doses of vaccines every day.
More than 20 million doses per day and huge numbers of nucleic acid tests from time to time mean that doctors and nurses all over the country have to work around the clock to race against time to stem the pandemic. According to the latest population census in May this year, China boasts 1.41 billion people, and the country vows to vaccinate about 80 percent of its population by the end of this year to achieve the target of herd immunity.
The Communist Party of China is people-centered. Every Chinese citizen – and every expatriate living in China – is deeply loved, cared for and cherished by the country. Vaccination is free for all Chinese nationals (including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compatriots). At present, two of the most frequently used vaccines in China (manufactured by Sinopharm and Sinovac) both require two shots and an interval of at least 21 days and no longer than eight weeks between the first and second shots. Local governments have set up a special record for every citizen who has been inoculated for the first shot. A warm-hearted short message will be sent to each person's mobile phone when the requirements for the second shot are met. Some apps affiliated to local governments can even automatically reserve a second shot for those people qualified.
Vaccination is available for foreigners living in China on a voluntary basis. Vaccination is also free for those foreigners who have joined China's government-run medical insurance program. Expatriates who are 18 years old or above can make vaccination appointments online, or apply through their companies, schools, communities and other methods. Similar to the requirements for Chinese people, foreigners must verify that they are proper candidates for inoculation and sign a consent form before the inoculation.
Chinese people working or studying overseas will never be forgotten by the country. For example, the Chinese Government recently offered 100,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines to the Sultanate of Oman, an Arabic country in western Asia. It is reported that there are now about 3,000 Chinese people living in the country and some of them have already been inoculated. According to an agreement between the two countries, after the vaccinations of all Chinese in Oman, the remaining vaccines will be donated to the Arabic country.
While China is speeding up the pace to achieve herd immunity, the country is also calling for equitable access to coronavirus vaccines all over the world and sparing no efforts to help in the global fight against the pandemic. It was reported that as of early June this year, China had already donated vaccines to more than 80 countries and exported vaccines to over 40 nations. Total exported and donated vaccines amounted to over 350 million doses.
The endorsement for exports is strong evidence that vaccines developed by China are global public goods and for the people of the world, not just residents in the country. It also signals China's efforts to promote cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
(The author is the editor-in-chief of Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication of Wuhan University.)