German expats in China get first overseas COVID-19 jabs
Germans living in China began receiving the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine yesterday, the first such rollout of a foreign coronavirus vaccine in the country.
Under an agreement reached during a visit to Beijing by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in November, Germans aged 12 years and older may receive their first dose or a booster of the BioNTech vaccine at a designated international hospital in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang in Liaoning Province, Guangzhou in Guangdong Province or Chengdu in Sichuan Province.
Marcus Wellendorf, 59, a documentary filmmaker, said he had received three doses of Chinese vaccines.
"Especially in the current situation, after China opened up very suddenly, I feel that an additional BioNTech booster is very comforting to have," he said at Beijing United Family Hospital, where 25 people had made bookings to be vaccinated.
More than 8,000 doses of the BioNTech vaccine, which was developed with Pfizer and is being distributed under COMIRNATY branding, have been shipped to China and more than 1,500 people have registered their interest, Germany's foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
About 14,000 German nationals live in China, according to the embassy.
German officials are "trying to expand the offer to other nationalities as well," its foreign ministry said.
China optimized its COVID control measures last month and infections are surging across a population with little immunity after being shielded since the virus emerged three years ago.
On Tuesday, the European Union offered free COVID-19 vaccines to China. Asked whether it would accept the offer, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said China's vaccine supplies were adequate.
The arrangement allowing Germans in China to receive the BioNTech vaccine is reciprocal, and Chinese nationals living in Germany can also be vaccinated with China's SinoVac, a German government spokesperson said.