China approves Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID mRNA vaccine—foreigners only

Two years after countries first approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID vaccine for domestic use, China will finally allow domestic use of the mRNA vaccine — but there’s a catch.

On Friday, China confirmed in a press conference that it will allow German citizens received BioNTech COVID vaccine, using mRNA technology, in exchange for German health authorities on Wednesday approved Sinovac of China jab for Chinese citizens living in Germany.

The statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry clarifies an earlier announcement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a trip to Beijing that BioNTech will available for foreigners in China.

But Beijing’s decision to approve a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for a segment of the Chinese population highlights the country’s uneasy relationship with mRNA vaccines and vaccines developed abroad when Beijing is starting to move away from its tough COVID-0 policy, which has the potential to cause a major outbreak.

Has China approved the mRNA vaccine?

BioNTech is the first mRNA vaccine — and the first to be developed abroad — approved for use in mainland China, even if it is only available to German citizens living in Germany. there.

Several Chinese companies are developing an mRNA vaccine, but none have received final approval. In September, Indonesia – not China – became first country for approval of a Chinese-developed mRNA vaccine, from the pharmaceutical company Walvax.

Fosun Pharmaceuticals, BioNTech’s distribution partner for broader China, 100 million dong guaranteed dosage for the Chinese market in December 2020. However, Fosun’s applications for its dosing use in mainland China are still waiting, there is no indication as to when an 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 mainly relies on two vaccines, from Sinovac and Sinopharm, in his vaccination campaign. The two vaccines use an inactivated virus to induce immunity. Studies show that these two vaccines are less effective at preventing infection, serious illness, and death than BioNTech and BioNTech. modern photographs, using mRNA technology.

Sinovac and Sinopharm both are developing boosters specifically targeted at the Omicron variant.

Public health officials have blame China’s ineffective vaccines for hindering its ability to smoothly change its COVID policy. Anthony Fauci, outgoing White House medical adviser, said: “The effectiveness of the Chinese-made vaccine is not equal to that of the vaccine already used in the United States. washington articles on December 2nd.

How many Chinese have been vaccinated?

From Beijing’s perspective, the more pressing problem is not the effectiveness of the vaccine but not enough people being vaccinated. Official data released in early December showed that only 40% of China’s population over 80 years of age received booster shots. Health officials at the time pledged to launch new campaigns to vaccinate China’s elderly, but now the task is especially urgent.

Beijing announced profound change followed its COVID rules last Wednesday, which include letting mild and asymptomatic cases recover at home and restricting lockdowns to individual floors and buildings, rather than entire neighborhoods. A capable shaft Good news for China’s 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 report. survey published on Sunday by Morning Advice.

But easing 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’s population may have COVID in an initial escape wave.

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

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