China will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all its citizens, said Zeng Yixin, Deputy Head of the National Health Commission (NHC), at a news conference on Thursday.
An inactivated COVID-19 vaccine became the first among self-developed ones to get conditional marketing approval from China’s National Medical Products Administration on Wednesday, an official said.
The vaccine is developed by the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., Ltd. under the China National Biotec Group, affiliated with Sinopharm.
“All Chinese people will receive this vaccine free of charge,’’ the NHC official said.
After the COVID-19 vaccines are approved to enter the market, especially when production capacity increases, China will comprehensively vaccinate senior citizens, people with underlying conditions and the general public in an orderly manner.
“China will vaccinate the eligible population as widely as possible and gradually build an immune barrier in the whole population to control the epidemic,’’ said Zeng.
He added that 60 or even 70 per cent of the vaccination rate is needed to establish universal protection.
“Once the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are developed and put into use, China will fulfil its commitment to make the vaccines global public goods and provide them to the world at a fair and reasonable price,’’ said Shen Bo, a Foreign Ministry official.
Shen noted that China has always attached importance to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.
China has considered providing vaccines to developing countries in various ways, including donations and free aid.
“China also calls on the international community to work together to promote the fair distribution of vaccines in the world and strive to make vaccines public goods that people of all countries can use and afford,’’ Shen said. (dpa/NAN)