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China kicks off emergency COVID-19 vaccination in Wuhan

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.

December 29, 2020 / 12:19 PM IST
SII has been adding 40-50 million doses every month, and will be reaching production capacity of about 300 million doses by July 2021. (Image Source: Reuters)

SII has been adding 40-50 million doses every month, and will be reaching production capacity of about 300 million doses by July 2021. (Image Source: Reuters)

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 officially certify its multiple vaccines.

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.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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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, but the city reported fewer number of 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. China's National Health Commission announced on Tuesday 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. Seven new cases were reported in Beijing, the commission said 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, the number of coronavirus cases has topped 80.7 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.76 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Reuters
first published: Dec 29, 2020 12:09 pm

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