Chinese authorities have approved a COVID-19 vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm for the public, though most frontline staff including healthcare workers, customs officers, firefighters are prioritised ahead of the general population.
Dr Zhang Wenhong, the leader of the Shanghai Medical Treatment Expert Group in the COVID-19 pandemic, has received a vaccination under emergency approvals.
If half of the population is vaccinated, the inflection point of the pandemic will appear in June and July 2021, and it may play a significant role by the end of the year, when the world will be able to enhance connectivity, Zhang said.
Being the director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Huashan Hospital, he said, “The vaccine coverage is more important than vaccine efficacy. China will promote the COVID-19 vaccine widely and then monitor how the antibody works for a long time.”
He also told the public not to worry too much about vaccine efficacy. A vaccine with more than 60 percent or 70 percent efficacy can be widely accepted as the current vaccine clinical research data is affected by many factors. The vaccine efficacy does not need to be as high as 95 percent and improving the coverage of vaccines in China will have a good overall effect. Inactivated vaccines are safe generally though they have short-term risks, such as possible allergies or body pain. These side effects appear with all vaccines.
The efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine is 79.34 percent, which has far exceeded the vaccine efficacy of current influenza vaccines (about 50 percent). Though health authorities have given conditional approval for the coronavirus vaccine in China, it requires time and determination of the government and the people to increase the vaccine coverage, in order to fighting coronavirus.
Zhang holds a positive attitude towards the upcoming Chinese New Year, “I believe we will be celebrating the Chinese Year in harmony and unity, while the virus will be locked out by us.”
(Compiled Yang Jiaqi)