More than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in China by Saturday, according to official figures, marking a milestone for the country in its bid to vaccinate at least 70 percent of its eligible population to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year.
The figure is the highest for a single country, accounting for 40 percent of the 2.5 billion doses administered globally. The United States comes second with around 300 million jabs administered.
▲COVID-19 vaccines are being manufactured at a CanSino Biologics factory in Tianjin on April 25, 2021. Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily
Since China had its first 100 million doses administered on March 27, the pace of the national vaccination drive has picked up significantly. It took 25 days for the figure to rise from 100 million doses to 200 million doses, yet only five days for it to increase from 600 million to 700 million. Over the past month, more than 500 million shots have been given.
This kind of efficiency is unparalleled worldwide. It has been made possible thanks to the country's massive vaccine development and production capability, which has not only satisfied domestic demand, but also enabled China to provide vaccine assistance for more than 80 developing countries while also exporting doses to 40 nations. The Sinopharm and Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines have both been authorized by the World Health Organization for emergency use.
A cooperative public that has trust in the government's ability to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, as well as good publicity work that has raised awareness about the importance of people getting vaccinated and instilling in them a sense of urgency have also contributed to China achieving such high vaccine coverage within such a short time.
Now that China has approved the emergency use of domestic vaccines for people aged between 3 and 17, it will not be long before universal access to vaccines is achieved within the country. The addition of nearly 200 million people in the national vaccination program will bring China another step closer to the goal of herd immunity, paving the way for it to completely reopen to the rest of the world in the near future.
But despite the progress made in the pandemic prevention and control work, officials and public health workers must bear in mind that the lowering of vigilance or any letup in their work could cost the country its recovery opportunities and even years of growth. There are many lessons to be learned, such as those in India, where success was declared too early in the fight against the pandemic.
To make sure China emerges as a winner in this fight, which remains a difficult and arduous challenge, the vaccination program must continue at full speed.
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