BEIJING (Reuters) – COVID-19 booster shots should become available in China after the country vaccinates more people to provide broader protection against the disease, a senior executive at a Sinopharm unit responsible for developing COVID-19 vaccines told state media.
While the World Health Organization has said current data does not indicate booster shots are needed, several countries have approved them amid resurgent infections and concerns of waning vaccine protection over time, especially against the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Zhang Yuntao, vice president at Sinopharm unit China National Biotec Group (CNBG), said that it is proper to make booster shots available in China after “all people who should be vaccinated are vaccinated,” according to an interview with the Global Times published late on Monday.
He said the priority for booster shots should be given to people older than 60 who showed weaker immune responses to vaccines compared with younger people in clinical trials.
Employees at restaurants and those working in aviation and delivery industries should also be prioritised, he said.
China has fully vaccinated around 55% of its population as of Aug. 12, using several locally developed shots including two-dose vaccines from Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.
The two companies said studies have showed that injecting a third dose led to a significant increase in antibodies, which faded over time after a two-course regimen.
A lab study showed antibodies triggered by the Sinovac shot declined below a key threshold from around six months after a second dose for most recipients.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Christian Schmollinger)