China has fully vaccinated more than a billion people against Covid-19, the national health commission (NHC) announced on Thursday, on course to achieve herd immunity against the infection by the end of the year.
More than 1.01 billion have been inoculated, which means more than 70% of China’s 1.4 billion population have at least taken two vaccine doses, the NHC said.
A total of 2.16 billion doses have been given in China as of September 15, Mi Feng, the NHC spokesperson said in Beijing on Thursday.
China’s vaccination programme – the largest in the world – was kicked off last year when the government allowed emergency inoculation of frontline workers.
A conditional approval was given to a vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm to begin Covid-19 immunisation programme.
Since then, at least six more manufactured by domestic companies and academic institutes have been rolled out.
At present, China allows those 12 and above to be vaccinated.
By June 20 this year, China had administered 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
China had accelerated its pace of free Covid-19 vaccinations for the whole nation since late March. The country hit the landmark figure of 100 million jobs on March 27.
“The vaccination rate increased further to hit 200 million on April 20. The pace of inoculation kept speeding up with 300 million jabs on May 7, 500 million on May 23 and 1 billion on June 19,” state English broadcaster CGTN said in a report.
The pace of the programme puts China in the lead among the world’s biggest economies.
“Just over half of the population in the US and Japan is fully vaccinated, while the rates in Britain and Germany exceed 60 per cent. India lags, with less than 15% of its population fully protected,” according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.
“More than 97% of adults in the capital of Beijing are fully vaccinated, as are 80% of the residents over the age of 12 in nearby Tianjin. The rate is approaching 80% in the financial hub of Shanghai and in the neighbouring Zhejiang province,” the Bloomberg tracker added.