China Greenlights Covid-19 Booster Shots for High-Risk Residents
(Bloomberg) -- China has greenlit booster shots for people at high risk of contracting Covid-19, citing studies that show the immune system fights off the infection better when a third dose of its homegrown vaccines are given.
Those at risk - including workers at health care and quarantine facilities, patients with weak immune systems, aviation and customs workers and people over the age of 60 - are eligible for a booster shot six months after they are fully vaccinated, said Zheng Zhongwei, who heads the task force overseeing Covid-19 vaccine research and development.
Travelers heading to high-risk regions outside of China can also get a booster shot six months after they are fully vaccinated, Zheng said, citing experts’ recommendations. Further studies are needed to determine whether the rest of the population would benefit from the extra immunization, he said in a briefing with reporters in Beijing.
The world’s most populous country joins a growing list of nations, ranging from Israel and the U.S. to countries in southeast Asia, who are backing booster shots to strengthen the defenses of the most vulnerable against the more infectious delta variant.
The move will deepen the inequality in vaccine distribution that has seen rich countries stockpiling shots while poor nations struggle to vaccinate even their highest-risk residents. The World Health Organization recently urged nations to hold off on boosters to ensure more a equitable distribution of vaccines globally.
China has fully immunized 889 million of its citizens and exported 770 million doses of its vaccines. It has pledged to supply 2 billion doses throughout the year.
According to Zheng, studies conducted by Chinese vaccine makers Sinovac Biotech Ltd and Sinopharm found antibody levels surge 30-fold after a third inoculation is given six months after completing the recommended two doses schedule for an inactivated vaccine. Meanwhile, Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics Inc. previously said its one-shot viral vector vaccine sparked a stronger immune response when given as a booster to people fully vaccinated with inactivated shots, compared to a third dose of the same vaccine they had received previously.
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