China’s vaccine uptake goes into overdrive . . .
Yesterday, China hit a record-breaking 20 million doses administered in a single day, with more than 566 million doses administered in total. This suggests that China could meet its ambitious June 30 target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of its population. Increased vaccine production, including a deal to produce up to one billion Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses annually, has allowed officials to expand vaccine eligibility. Chinese citizens are now lining up for vaccinations in the wake of local outbreaks, freebie giveaways, and workplace campaigns encouraging employees and Party members to set examples for the rest of the population. The WHO’s recognition of the Sinopharm vaccine and the publishing of its peer-reviewed Phase Three trial data today may also contribute to confidence in domestic vaccines despite lingering doubts over their efficacy.
Vaccine delays and shortages trigger political spats in Taiwan . . .
In Taiwan, the government has ordered more than 20 million doses of AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines. Still, global vaccine shortages have delayed shipments to later in the summer, with only 700,000 doses delivered thus far. Meanwhile, amidst a surge in vaccine interest due to the current outbreak, the government has shifted vaccination priority from the general public to the medical sector and essential frontline workers. The mayors of Taipei and New Taipei City, the two hardest-hit cities, are attacking the central government over the vaccine shortage. Meanwhile, the opposition Kuomintang has called on the government to lift the decades-old ban on importing Chinese-manufactured vaccines. However, the government continues to reject vaccines from China and alleges that pressure from Beijing led to the collapse of deals to source BioNTech vaccines from Germany.
Expiry date looms in Hong Kong as residents shun shot . . .
Hong Kong’s government announced that some two million vaccine doses remain in storage amidst widespread vaccine hesitancy. Only 17.5 per cent of Hong Kong residents have received at least one dose thus far. The Pfizer-BioNTech doses will expire in August, and health officials indicated that they might sell these doses to other Asian countries before they do. With a surplus in hand, the government will open vaccination registration to non-residents, including two-way permit holders from mainland China currently in Hong Kong starting Friday and asylum seekers in July. With zero new cases reported today for the first time in seven months, a lack of urgency could be dissuading residents from taking the shot. But distrust in the government’s public health communication, fears over vaccine safety, and mistreatment of communities such as migrant workers and asylum seekers have also been identified as factors.
- CNN: Taiwan blames China for slowing down its access to Covid-19 vaccines. The reality is more complicated.
- Fortune: How China went from laggard to leader in distributing COVID-19 vaccines
- South China Morning Post: Coronavirus: health experts suggest selling Hong Kong’s unused vaccines or pausing fresh supplies as expiry date looms