China has finally announced plans to inoculate COVID-19 vaccine to its senior citizens aged 60 and above but they would be provided only one jab without a booster as it is not recommended for now, a media report said on Tuesday.
According to China’s National Health Commission, (NHC) over 110 million people have been given COVID-19 vaccines in China so far but only for people between 18 to 59 years. People above 59 years are yet to be given the jabs, state-run Global Times reported.
China also says it has shipped 100 million vaccines abroad but yet to vaccinate its elderly.
China’s population of 60 years and above crossed 260 million, according to official data released recently.
NHC in its first official COVID-19 vaccination guidelines on Monday, suggesting seniors aged 60 and above get inoculated as current clinical research data showed that vaccination is safe for senior citizens.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
It also noted COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are not recommended for now, the report said.
The guidelines also noted it is not recommended for people under the age of 18 to get vaccinated for now.
The guidelines suggested seniors aged 60 and above should get vaccinated, saying that the data from Phase I and Phase II clinical studies of four conditionally approved vaccines showed that vaccination is safe for this group, even though there is no data on the protective efficacy of the vaccines yet, it said.
Compared with people aged 18-59, the neutralising antibody titer of senior citizens after vaccination is slightly lower, but the seroconversion rate of neutralising antibodies is similar, the guidelines said.
China has authorised five COVID-19 vaccines for conditional marketing or emergency use, including three inactivated vaccines, one adenovirus vector vaccine, and one recombinant protein sub-unit vaccine
Although booster shots are still not suggested, Zhang Yuntao, a vice president and chief scientist of China National Biotec Group, a Sinopharm subsidiary told media on Sunday that the group has designed COVID-19 booster shots to effectively improve the durability of antibodies, the report said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.