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China is planning to vaccinate at least 50 million people in the high-priority group ahead of the Chinese New Year when the travel season peaks in the country. Meanwhile, vaccination of the elderly and people with underlying conditions might start early next year in the Sichuan province, which has been hit by a small cluster of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks

As per a report by one of the country's leading dailies South China Morning Post, Beijing is planning to distribute 100 million doses of the vaccines made by Chinese firms Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. China has granted emergency-use status to two candidate vaccines from Sinopharm and one from Sinovac Biotech. It has approved a fourth, from CanSino Biologics Inc, for military use.

Officials from centres of disease control and prevention across the country were summoned for a televised training meeting on Wednesday to prepare for mass inoculations of high-priority groups, report said.

Also Read | Covid curve slumping across India

Till now, at least one million people have already received a jab in China after vaccine candidates were approved for "emergency use", but so far they have been limited to priority groups such as state employees and international students.

China has five coronavirus vaccines in the final stages of development -- but none has received official approval from authorities and the results of late-stage trials have yet to be published.

However, the Regulators in the United Arab Emirates approved a Sinopharm vaccine last week, saying it had 86 per cent efficacy, but there has been no data from the Chinese side. In Peru, regulators gave the green light on Wednesday for Sinopharm to resume trials after they were halted over the weekend because of an adverse event. Meanwhile, in Brazil, where the Sinovac vaccines are in the final phase of trials, Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria said the authorities would release the efficacy data on Wednesday.

Vaccination of high-priority groups will stop the spread of the virus during holidays

The high-priority group includes health workers, police officers, firefighters, customs officers, cargo handlers, transport and logistics workers.

Lunar New Year is a high-risk season for the spread of infectious diseases in China. In 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or Sars, spread to different parts of the county as hundreds of millions of people headed home for the national holiday. Last year, the authorities locked down Wuhan in central China just before the break to prevent a similar spread.

The mass inoculation for high-priority groups aims to reduce the risks of the spread of the disease during the annual week-long holiday, the SCMP report also said.

Vaccination to open for public in Sichuan province early next year

Meanwhile, vaccination of the elderly and people with underlying conditions might start in the Sichuan province early next year, that is after the inoculations of the priority groups.

Health officials in the province informed that 118,000 vaccine doses had arrived in the province so far, with plans to inoculate all high-risk groups by February 5 before rolling out the programme to the rest of the population. Sichuan is the first province to outline a timeline of its vaccination plans for the general public.

The coronavirus -- which first emerged in China late last year -- has largely been brought under control in the country, but there have been a series of domestic outbreaks. Sichuan has been hit by a small cluster of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, with one more virus infection reported Friday.

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