BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Sichuan province could start administering new coronavirus vaccinations to vulnerable groups that are more likely to develop severe symptoms after infection, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, in the beginning of 2021, local media reported on Tuesday.
The southwestern province could also begin inoculating the general public after the Lunar New Year in mid-February, said the Sichuan Daily, which is backed by the local authorities of Chinese Communist party.
China has not announced an official timeline for nationwide mass inoculation or approved any COVID-19 vaccines for general public use. However, an emergency-use program, that gives experimental vaccines still in clinical trials to specific people in high-risk groups, was launched in July.
Sichuan province could complete vaccinating over 2 million people within 2020 via this emergency-use program, Sichuan Daily said in an article in Chinese social media Weibo.
People whom the province prioritises for emergency use fall into 12 categories, including medical workers, staff at ports of entry, police, employees in cold-chain food industries, teachers, and people travelling abroad for study or work.
The vaccines to be administered in Sichuan province will be mainly inactivated vaccines, Sichuan Daily said, without identifying specific products. Inactivated vaccines, made of dead virus that cannot replicate in human cells, is used to trigger immune responses.
Three vaccines approved for emergency use, including one developed by Sinovac Biotech and two from a subsidiary of China National Pharmaceutical Group(Sinopharm), are all inactivated vaccines.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Tony Munroe; Editing by Bernadette Baum)