Even as COVID-19 cases spike, vaccine hesistancy plagues China

Even as coronavirus cases surge across the nation vaccine hesitancy runs deep in mainland China. While officially the country’s vaccination rate is above 90 per cent, the rate for adults with booster shots is much lower.

As per a Reuters report citing academics, vaccine hesitancy poses a growing headache for Beijing as it attempts to persuade more and more of its citizens to vaccinate in the face of the sudden spike of Covid cases reported after the lifting of the nation’s stringent Zero-Covid restrictions.

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Compared to the official vaccination rate of 90 per cent the rate of adults who have taken a booster shot drops to 57.9 per cent. According to government data, the number takes a further plunge to 42.3 per cent among people aged 80 and above.

This has prompted warning calls that the country could see over 1.5 million deaths after curbs like mass testing and lockdowns were lifted.

In China where till recently stringent restrictions were the norm, vaccination isn’t mandatory. This is because of signs that the public might push back against any such move.

Vaccinations developed overseas are not available to the general public in mainland china. Only inactivated shots Sinopharm, Sinovac’s Coronavac and other domestically developed options are available. 

However, Beijing is yet to develop an mRNA vaccine and in its absence questions have been raised about the efficacy of Chinese vaccines vs foreign-made mRNA vaccines.

“At least a half of doctors and educated people wanted to get the mRNA ones and refused to get the Chinese ones,” said  Kelly Lei, a doctor from Shenzhen.

With the neighbouring Chinese territory of Macau offering these mRNA vaccines, people are scrambling to get the jab. As a consequence, no bookings are available until January 21. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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