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China to Vaccinate 50 Million With Its Covid-19 Shots


China plans to inoculate 50 million people with two experimental homegrown Covid-19 vaccines before February’s Lunar New Year holiday season, leading up to vaccinations for the broader public by spring, people familiar with the matter said.

Chinese health officials discussed rolling out vaccinations in two batches before Jan. 15 and Feb. 5 in a conference call earlier this week, according to people close to the matter.

Authorities would then aim to offer these vaccines—by state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm and private Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd.—“formally to the market” in April, according to one of the people, who viewed a written summary of the call.

China is expanding an already considerable rollout of its leading vaccine candidates, despite warnings by Western public health officials that there isn’t enough scientific data to prove the safety and efficacy of the shots. Previously, Sinopharm said it had inoculated nearly one million people and local health community centers in China began offering ways for people to sign up for shots.

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates, where Sinopharm’s vaccines have been undergoing late-stage clinical trial, have said that one of the firm’s vaccine strains is 86% effective. But neither the U.A.E. nor Sinopharm have released details on how researchers arrived at the estimate.

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