Vaccine supply will increase, says Beijing’s immunization chief, as parts of China face delays to 2nd Covid-19 shot

The head of one of China’s Covid-19 vaccine development projects has promised that the supply of jabs will improve in the coming months, after it was reported that some parts of the country were facing acute supply shortages.

In an interview with the Global Times on Tuesday, Zheng Zhongwei, director of the Development Center for Medical Science and Technology of the National Health Commission (NHC), accepted that the country was grappling with a shortage of Covid-19 jabs. 

“At present, domestic vaccine supply is relatively tight, but from May, especially after June, the vaccine supply situation will ease significantly,” he said. 

Zheng stated that, once production is properly established later this year, China will be in a better position to cater for its vast domestic demand and for the rest of the world. “China plans to produce over three billion Covid-19 vaccines this year. The capacity can reach around five billion doses this year,” he claimed, noting that nearly 200 million shots had been administered as of Monday. 

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Earlier in April, the Global Times reported vaccine shortages in Hainan Province, Guangdong Province, and Shaanxi Province. The health authorities either had to stop administering jabs completely or delay giving a second shot. China plans to vaccinate about 560 million people by the end of June, according to state media. 

In another excerpt from his interview with the Global Times, published on Wednesday, Zheng defended the efficacy of the Chinese vaccines, which are being used in many countries around the world. He said that Western media consistently refers to the 50.4% efficacy rate of the Sinovac jab in Brazilian clinical trials as an example, but real-world data provided a more promising picture. 

Noting data from Chile which said Sinovac’s vaccine was 67% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in a real-world rollout, he said: “This proves the efficacy of Chinese vaccines. Isn't this data real? Should we be misguided by certain voices?”

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