China has approved the emergency use of Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s Covid-19 vaccine for those as young as three, a spokesperson confirmed on June 8, making it the first country to offer jabs to young children.
But he did not confirm when the young children would be able to start receiving the shots, saying the schedule for the rollout will be decided by the National Health Commission “according to China’s current epidemic prevention and control needs and vaccine supply”.
The company has completed early phase trials of the vaccine in children and adolescents, with results to be published shortly in the Lancet scientific journal, the spokesperson added.
Since the coronavirus first emerged, Beijing has administered over 777 million vaccine doses. Chinese officials have said they are aiming to inoculate 70 per cent of the population of 1.41 billion by the end of this year.
State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported over the weekend that an unnamed official in the State Council’s epidemic response task force had said vaccines had been approved for children, and “the safety and effectiveness” had been proven.
A spokesperson for China’s other major vaccine, Sinopharm, said experts had demonstrated the effectiveness of its vaccine in children, but didn’t confirm whether it had been approved for use.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved both the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines for emergency use in adults aged 18 and older.
While the WHO does not currently recommend vaccinating children against coronavirus, the US, Britain, Singapore and the EU have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those as young as 12.
China reported 33 new Covid-19 cases on June 8, including 19 in southern Guangdong province where authorities have been battling a local outbreak.