The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus emerged a year ago before it became a pandemic and upended life across the globe, has started the emergency COVID-19 vaccination on some key groups, a senior health official said on Tuesday, even as China is yet to certify its multiple vaccines officially.
The vaccination, available at 48 designated clinics in 15 districts, began on December 24, targeting certain groups of people aged between 18 and 59 years, He Zhenyu, deputy director of the centre for disease control and prevention in Wuhan, told the media in Wuhan.
Those receiving the vaccine need to take two shots with an interval of four weeks, the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted He as saying.
As per the official Chinese time-line, the first cases of coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, on December 31 last year. The city of 11 million people went into lockdown from January 23, followed by the entire Hubei province.
The Hubei province and Wuhan lifted a prolonged lockdown on April 8 this year after the virus was brought under control. The death toll from the virus in Hubei province stood at 4,512, including 3,869 in Wuhan.
Hubei has so far reported 68,134 confirmed COVID-19 cases in total, including 50,339 in Wuhan.
In May this year, Wuhan conducted COVID-19 tests on almost all of its population following increasing concerns of a rebound of the pandemic. Still, the city reported fewer cases in the following months.
Chinese officials in some of the cities, including Beijing, have been conducting mass testing of people in the past few days in localities where cases have sprung up. On Tuesday, China’s National Health Commission announced that 27 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Chinese mainland on Monday.
This included 15 locally transmitted cases and 12 arriving from outside the mainland. The commission said seven new cases were reported in Beijing in its daily report.
By the end of Monday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland reached 87,003, including 348 patients who are still receiving treatment.
A total of 82,021 patients have been discharged from the hospitals following their recovery and 4,634 have died as a result of the virus, according to the commission. China has been carrying out emergency use of its vaccines as the government evaluated data of clinical trials at home and abroad.
According to the officials, over a million people working in health and other critical sectors have been given vaccines under an emergency provision.
According to Yang Sheng, Deputy Director of China’s National Medical Products Administration’s drug registration bureau, a total of 11 Chinese vaccine candidates are in different stages of testing at home and abroad.
China has joined the COVAX, an international vaccine alliance.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said nine vaccine candidates, including two from China, are currently being evaluated for inclusion in the COVAX facility.
The COVAX is co-led by Gavi, an international vaccine alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO.
Globally, coronavirus cases have topped 80.7 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.76 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.