China’s pace of vaccinations is a ‘great concern,’ disease expert warns

Sun Online Desk

7th March, 2021 01:11:19 printer

China’s pace of vaccinations is a ‘great concern,’ disease expert warns

China should speed up the pace of vaccinations to plug the immunity gap against Covid-19 in the population, a top epidemiologist has warned.

Zhang Wenhong, director of the infectious disease department at Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital, told an online event hosted by the Washington-based Brookings Institution on Monday that China has sufficient Covid-19 vaccine production capacity, but the pace of vaccination is of “great concern.”

Zhang said the production output of Covid-19 vaccines in China is expected to be increased to 2.1 billion by year-end, more than one dose per person for the whole Chinese population.

“So, I don’t think we need to worry about capacity in China,” he said.

However, “I have great concerns about the speed of administering the vaccination,” he said.

Even with 10 million doses of inoculation being administered every day, he estimated it will take up to seven months to vaccinate almost 70% of the population, a threshold believed necessary for herd immunity.

Herd immunity occurs when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease through vaccination and/or prior illness, making the spread of the disease from person to person unlikely.

Even individuals not vaccinated would then be offered some protection because the disease had little opportunity to spread within the community.

The percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated, while for polio, the threshold is about 80%. The threshold for Covid-19 is not known, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Citing sources at China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), prominent epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, told the same Brookings event that China is planning to vaccinate about 40% of its entire population by end of June.

“That would be OK, but it still needs time to reach the so-called herd immunity,” he said. “The key point around the world is for people to receive the vaccine as soon as possible,” said Zhong, also head of an expert group at China’s National Health Commission.

“The longer it takes for you to get the vaccine, the more likelihood for mutation of the virus. That’s a big problem.”

He urged that the world “should speed up the production of all the vaccines and prepare some new type of vaccines sensitive to variants of the virus.”

Source: Caixin Global