China begins huge Covid vaccine rollout, with doses reportedly already given to 1 million citizens
- Health officials in China began giving at-risk citizens emergency access to vaccine doses, according to a report from The Associated Press.
- "We must be prepared for large-scale production," said Sinopharm vice premier, Sun Chunlan, per AP.
- State media said developing countries may seek vaccines from China, if they're approved before those made by Western companies.
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Health officials in China have begun giving at-risk citizens emergency access to vaccine doses, according to a report.
More than a million healthcare workers and others in at-risk groups have already received vaccines, The Associated Press reported Sunday. It detailed millions of orders from the country's provinces. Health officials in world's most populous country, which is home to almost 1.4 billion people, haven't yet released a comprehensive plan.
With limited data released by the Chinese government, the official tally of confirmed coronavirus deaths stood Sunday at 4,746 deaths out of 93,467 cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That compared to 281,186 deaths from 14.6 million cases in the United States, a far less populous country.
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Chinese government researchers are testing several vaccines from about a dozen countries, with a domestic vaccine from China Pharmaceutical Group, or Sinopharm, nearing final approval, the AP reported, citing an interview the company's vice premier gave to Xinhua News Agency, a quasi-state entity.
"We must be prepared for large-scale production," said Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, per AP.
China's efforts to approve vaccines, even for emergency use, are likely to affect other countries, especially those that have lagged in such research, state media reported Thursday.
"Developing countries may face a long wait if they want a vaccine made in the west," Xinua News Agency said on Twitter, "but there's always the option of turning to China, says an economist from the Development Bank of Singapore."
In recent months, Chinese officials have repeatedly said that their country is mostly COVID-19, and that they've been effective in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
"Since the COVID-19 broke out, the Chinese government has put people first, given top priority to saving lives, made scientific and targeted efforts to prevent and control the pandemic, and become the first one that effectively contained the virus," said Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, in a Friday briefing.
Chunying said her country has now mobilized to help other tackle the virus.
Meanwhile, China has reportedly been attempting to hack into overseas vaccine research data. The US intelligence community said it's seen that "China is attempting to - has been attempting to - access our research into COVID-19," John Ratcliffe, National Intelligence director, told CBS News last week.
Tech giant IBM on Thursday said it had uncovered a global fishing campaign that was part of an attempt to access vaccine supply chains, but stopped short of saying which countries or organisations had been behind the attack.
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