China promotes booster shots with variety of vaccine choices
At a vaccination site in Beijing's Chaoyang District, medics are busy preparing inhalable COVID-19 vaccine doses for individuals, who are provided with the option to inhale the needle-free vaccine after it was aerosolized.
"The vaccine tasted a little sweet, which was good for me," said a vaccine recipient, adding that she is afraid of injection and chose the inhalable vaccine as her second booster shot.
The inhalable version is an adenovirus type 5 vector-based vaccine. It has an inhaled dose of 0.1 milliliters, only about a fifth of a traditional intramuscular vaccine dose, and compared with injection, it can induce one more type of immune response – mucosal immunity.
The inhalable vaccine was approved as a booster shot for people who have been inoculated with two doses of inactivated vaccines for a period of six months or longer. It is among the vaccine types which were approved by the Chinese government for inoculators to get boosted against COVID-19.
As the epidemic continues to rage, China has steadily promoted booster inoculation for the public by providing an increasing number of vaccine types to ensure people's health and safety.
According to the State Council, all vaccines approved for conditional marketing or emergency use can be offered as a second booster dose to certain groups who had received their first booster more than six months ago.
The vaccines include this inhalable vaccine, several injectable recombinant vaccines developed by biotech companies such as CanSino Biologics and Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co Ltd and an intranasal vaccine.
The intranasal drug is a live-attenuated influenza vaccine given through the nose. It was jointly developed by Xiamen University, the University of Hong Kong and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, and has been proven to be safe and effective in human trials.
Getting boosted is the best protection during the new phase of the anti-virus fight, said China's leading epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan in an interview with Xinhua, urging more people to get the booster jab against COVID-19.
In fact, from the development of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines three years ago and their official approvals for public inoculation to rolling out the second dose of booster shot for key groups recently, promoting vaccination has always been a vital measure in China's epidemic prevention strategy.
Data from the National Health Commission showed that as of Tuesday, more than 3.46 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered on the Chinese mainland, with over 90 percent of the population fully vaccinated. A total of about 820 million people have received a booster shot as of early August.
Besides vaccinating people with routine booster shots, the Chinese government has attached great importance to inoculating the elderly with a second booster. People aged over 60 were included in the targeted groups for a second booster, according to the State Council.
The vaccines currently used in China are remarkably effective in preventing severe illness and death, said Wang Huaqing, an expert with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A study published in the journal the Lancet Infectious Diseases in October revealed that two doses of China-developed inactivated vaccines showed 70 percent effectiveness in preventing severe illness among people aged over 60, and this rate increased to 95 percent after a booster shot.
The Chinese government has updated a work plan to ramp up vaccination among its elderly population. Local governments across the country are asked to set up "green channels" or arrange vaccination vehicles for the elderly, and provide them with door-to-door services when needed, in order to facilitate their inoculation, according to the work plan.