China has vaccinated more than a million people in the high-risk category and the National Health Mission has set the target to vaccinate 15 million police officers and medical personnel by the mid-February. Zheng Zhongwei, chief of a State Council task force on vaccine research, development and inoculation told a State Council press conference on December 21 that all injections would be “transparent and voluntary.” But in fact, the system lacks transparency since people are not given any information about the type of vaccine being injected.
The initial feedback from those chosen for the pilot scheme appears to be less than ideal. As seen on forums and WeChat groups popular among medical workers and immigration officers and through Asia Times’ interviews of airport workers in Shanghai, major complaints center around the elusive manner in which these drugs are produced and administered. “Vaccination is free of charge but we were not allowed to check the packaging or the syringes, and we were warned beforehand not to take any photos of the entire process,” said the airport worker. He added that each dose had its own individual packaging and those given their first jabs must report their temperature and general health for at least a week to a central register operated by the city’s health authority.
It is believed that three attenuated vaccines, supplied by the state-owned SinoPharm and listed drug maker Sinovac could be used in these injection programs. SinoPharm made public data from its final-stage human trials conducted overseas, claiming an overall 79% efficacy rate, while Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said their mRNA vaccine was 98% effective.
People are sceptical about this vaccination drive and many believe that this is another massive human trial and people are made ‘lab rats’ without their knowledge. In an online survey conducted by NetEase, out of the total 3,500 netizens who had participated, 40% said that they wouldn’t rush for getting a vaccine shot even after Beijing announces a universal vaccination program against COVID-19.