China Has Administered More Than 9 Million Vaccine Doses

(Bloomberg) --

China has administered more than 9 million anti-coronavirus vaccine doses as the country braces for a possible increase in infections during the winter.

Some 7.5 million doses have been given since Dec. 15, officials told a briefing in Beijing. Vaccines are free for all citizens and the costs will be covered by the medicare fund and fiscal budgets, they said.

China sees a bigger risk of the virus spreading in winter as people travel and gather for holidays, National Health Commission Deputy Head Zeng Yixin told reporters.

The vaccination roll-out is focused first on high-risk population groups because production capacity can’t keep up, Zeng said. Capacity is steadily ramping up now and it will enable administration of doses to the general public, he said, without giving a timeline.

China is “active, open and supportive” of a visit to Wuhan by the World Health Organization to probe the origins of the virus, Zeng said. China has lined up its own experts to work with WHO experts in Wuhan. The timing of the WHO team’s arrival in China is still being confirmed, he said.

(Adds comments on vaccine costs, WHO in second, last paragraphs)