China on Saturday launched a new Covid-19 vaccination drive, saying the country’s leaders have been jabbed and urging the population to receive initial or booster shots.
The terminology indicated top leaders Xi Jinping, the president, and Li Keqiang, the premier, are up to date with Covid-19 jabs.
“China’s state and party leaders have all been vaccinated against Covid-19 with domestically-made shots,” said Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission.
Zeng’s comment came about two years after the country launched its vaccination drive. China lags behind many other countries in informing its public about the vaccination status of their leaders.
The country has achieved a 89.7% vaccination rate and given about 56% of its 1.41 billion population a booster dose, but only 61% of those aged above 80 finishing their primary vaccination.
However, more aggressive pushes by frontline officials, including limiting access of the unvaccinated to public venues, triggered an online backlash and were quickly reversed.
Chinese-made vaccines are generally not as effective as their western counterparts, research has found.
The University of Hong Kong found that after receiving a booster, the effectiveness of three doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may be as high as 89%, while three doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac may only be 36% effective.
Protection against severe Covid-19 by Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines remained high up to six months after second doses, new University of Bristol research found after analysing health record data on over seven million adults.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell