tirsdag 1. juni 2021

China forces pace of vaccinations with persuasion … and some cash

Early in March, when the Covid vaccination rate in the UK had reached 30% of the population, China’s top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan revealed in a webinar that the figure in China was barely 3.56%. The low vaccination rate was worrying the country’s leaders, as new variants continued to emerge across the world. By the end of February, only slightly more than 52m doses of Covid vaccines had been administered in China – a country with more than 1.4 billion people.

But Zhong – also one of Beijing’s most trusted medical advisers – said that China would aim to inoculate 40% of its population by the end of June, while admitting it was going to be a challenging task ahead. “We don’t have much time, and we still have a large amount of work to do,” he said.

Without charting a path to achieving “herd immunity”, the current policy of zero-tolerance for cases meant, for example, that an entire neighbourhood in the southern city of Guangzhou was shut down for door-to-door testing yesterday, because of a handful of positive cases. A national mass vaccination programme began roaring into action three weeks after Zhong’s pledge. Provinces and cities then came up with their own plans to meet the target, and to compete with each other.