Beijing Expands Covid Booster Campaign Ahead of Winter Olympics
(Bloomberg) -- China is expanding booster shots to people participating the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, amid an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak that’s seeing cases quickly spread across the country.
The Chinese capital kicked off its booster campaign this week, and will provide added shots to people participating in and supporting February’s Olympics and other major events to be held in the city, state media reported Thursday.
In addition to Olympic-related personnel, extra shots may also be given to any adult who’s been fully vaccinated for six months, according to circulars issued by district governments and reviewed by Bloomberg News. Beijing has fully vaccinated more than 97% of its adult population.
China in August announced plans to give boosters of its homegrown vaccines to workers facing a greater risk of catching Covid and those with weak immune systems at least six months after their complete inoculation.
Beijing’s booster campaign will include the viral vector vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics Inc., according to a statement published by the Beijing Municipal Health Commission. Studies have indicated it’s able to induce higher levels of antibodies among fully-inoculated people than the inactivated shots from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and and Sinopharm.
Health officials previously said only the Sinovac and Sinopharm shot had been approved as boosters.
China’s National Health Commission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the expanded offerings.
The widening drive comes as the capital found six Covid infections, traced back to a flareup in China’s northwestern provinces that spread quickly across the country this week. The surge is emerging as the fifth major outbreak since the highly infectious delta variant first breached China in May. The world’s second-largest economy is still looking to eliminate the virus with aggressive containment measures, rather than follow other Covid Zero stalwarts in treating it as endemic.
Unlike the spectator-free Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, the Beijing Games will allow spectators from within China. It will mandate a three-week quarantine upon arrival for athletes who are not fully vaccinated with shots approved by the World Health Organization or national authorities.
Beijing will enact a so-called “closed loop” that limits participants’ movement to Olympic venues and related facilities, with designated transport services. A playbook detailing Covid countermeasures for the Olympics is expected to be released soon.
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