China aims to vaccinate 40% of population by end-July: senior adviser

FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 vaccines are seen on a production line inside the Beijing Institute of Biological Products of Sinopharm's China National Biotec Group (CNBG), during a government-organised visit to the company in Beijing, China February 26, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

BEIJING (Reuters) - China aims to vaccinate 40% of its population against COVID-19 by the end of July, a senior health adviser told Reuters on Tuesday, requiring a significant increase in inoculations even as it ramps up exports of vaccines.

Zhong Nanshan, a coronavirus expert who helped shape China’s COVID-19 response, said on Monday the current ratio of vaccine doses administered per 100 people in China is 3.56, much lower than those in Israel, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

In an online forum held by China’s Tsinghua University and the Washington-based Brookings Institution on Monday, Zhong said the target was 40% by the end of June, citing his contacts at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, in a phone call with Reuters on Tuesday, Zhong clarified that 40% target would be hit in July, after taking into account the proportion of people who do not want to be vaccinated.

The 40% by the end of July would include people who have received either one dose or two doses, Zhong said. Three Chinese-made vaccines require two shots, while another one requires a single dose.

China, which has approved four locally developed coronavirus vaccines for use on the general public, had administered 52.52 million doses as of Feb. 28, Zhong said.

Authorities had aimed to vaccinate 50 million people before the Lunar New Year in February, official media outlet Global Times reported in January.

Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine has been used in mass vaccination drives in Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia. CanSino Biologics Inc has agreed to supply millions of doses to Mexico.

(This story corrects the number of doses in 6th paragraph to 52.52 million from 50.52 million)

Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Colin Qian and Tom Daly; Editing by Sam Holmes