BEIJING: China has now administered more than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the health officials said on Sunday (Jun 20), more than a third of the number given worldwide.
About 20.23 million vaccine doses were administered in the country on Saturday, taking its total to 1.01 billion, data from the National Health Commission showed.
It comes after the number of doses administered globally surpassed 2.5 billion on Friday, according to an AFP count from official sources.
It is unclear what percentage of China’s population has now been inoculated, but its vaccination drive got off to a slow start after a successful fight against the virus left little sense of urgency to get jabbed.
A lack of transparency and previous vaccine scandals have also led to resistance among residents.
Authorities have set an ambitious target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people by the end of this month.
Some provinces are offering vaccines for free to encourage people to roll up their sleeves. Residents in central Anhui province have been given free eggs, while some living in Beijing have received shopping coupons.
A recent outbreak of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus in the southern city of Guangzhou has also served as a wake-up call for many dragging their feet.
READ: China ramps up vaccinations, but uneven rollout leaves borders closed
The country has four conditionally approved vaccines, whose published efficacy rates remain behind rival jabs by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have 95 perc ent and 94 per cent success rates respectively.
China’s Sinovac previously said that trials of its shot in Brazil showed around 50 per cent efficacy in preventing infection and 80 percent in preventing cases requiring medical intervention.
Sinopharm’s two vaccines have efficacy rates of 79 per cent and 72 per cent respectively, while the overall efficacy for CanSino’s stands at 65 per cent after 28 days.
Many of them require two doses.
China is expected to produce more than 3 billion vaccine doses this year, state news agency Xinhua reported in April.
Health authorities have not said when China will reach herd immunity or what proportion of its vaccine doses will be sold abroad.
China reported 23 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the mainland on Saturday, down from 30 infections a day earlier.
All new cases were imported infections from overseas, with 12 reported in the southern province of Guangdong, the National Health Commission said.
The number of new asymptomatic infections fell to 20 from 42 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China reached 91,587 on Saturday, with the death toll unchanged at 4,636.
BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments
Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram