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China finally approves a COVID mRNA vaccine, but only for some foreigners

On Friday, China confirmed this at a press conference would leave German citizens receive the BioNTech COVID vaccine, which uses mRNA technology, in exchange for the German health authorities on Wednesday approving Chinese Sinovac blow for Chinese citizens living in Germany.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry statement clarifies an earlier announcement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during his trip to Beijing that BioNTech would be made available to foreign nationals in China.

But Beijing’s decision to approve Pfizer/BioNTech coup for a sliver of China’s population highlights the country’s strained relationship with foreign-developed mRNA vaccines and injections as Beijing embarks on an exit from its tough COVID-19 policy. zero, which will likely cause a massive epidemic.

Has China approved mRNA vaccines?

BioNTech is the first mRNA vaccine — and the first foreign-developed — approved for use in mainland China, even though it’s only available to German citizens living there.

Several Chinese companies are developing mRNA vaccines, but none have reached final approval. In September, Indonesia, not China, became the first country to approve an mRNA vaccine developed in China by the pharmaceutical company Walvax.

Fosun Pharmaceuticals, BioNTech’s distribution partner for Greater China, insured 100 million doses for the Chinese market in December 2020. However, Fosun’s requests to use its doses in mainland China are still pending, with no indication of when the mRNA vaccine will be approved for widespread use. (The semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong has approved BioNTech for use in its vaccination campaigns)

China has relied heavily on two vaccines, from Sinovac and sinopharm, in its vaccination campaign. The two vaccines use an inactivated virus to confer immunity. Studies show that the two vaccines are less effective at preventing infection, serious illness and death than BioNTech and Modern shots, which use mRNA technology.

Sinovac And sinopharm they are both developing boosters that specifically target the Omicron variant.

Public health officials have he blamed China’s less effective vaccines for hindering its ability to smoothly change its COVID policy. “The effectiveness of vaccines made in China is not on the level of vaccines that have been used in the United States,” said Anthony Fauci, outgoing White House medical adviser. The Washington Post on 2 December.

How many Chinese have been vaccinated?

The most pressing problem, according to Beijing, is not the effectiveness of its vaccines, but the insufficient number of people vaccinated. Official data released in early December shows that only 40% of China’s population over the age of 80 has received a recall. Health officials at the time pledged to launch new campaigns to vaccinate Chinese elderly people, but now the task is especially urgent.

Beijing has announced radical changes to its COVID rules last Wednesday, including recovering mild and asymptomatic cases at home and limiting lockdowns to individual floors and buildings, rather than entire neighborhoods. A stud is likely good news for the Chinese economy, dragged down in November by a record COVID outbreak and widespread lockdowns. Chinese consumer sentiment last month fell to levels not seen since early 2020, the early days of the pandemic, according to a poll released on Sunday by Morning Consult.

But relaxed measures could lead to an increase in cases across China. One of the country’s top medical advisers predicted last week that up to 60% of the country could catch COVID in a first wave of release.

Chinese officials are now reassuring people that an increase in cases is not a cause for concern. State media on Friday quoted Zhong Nanshan, the country’s top medical expert, as saying Omicron’s death rate is comparable to the flu.