BEIJING, China | The city of Beijing is now offering its residents the injection of a third dose of anti-COVID vaccine, local media said on Wednesday, a few months before the Winter Olympics organized in the Chinese capital.
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China had fully vaccinated more than 1 billion people (78% of the population) by mid-September, according to the Health Ministry, thanks to Chinese vaccines from manufacturers Sinovac and Sinopharm.
But doubts persist about the effectiveness of these vaccines against new variants of the coronavirus.
The virus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan (center) in late 2019.
But since then China has largely controlled the epidemic on its soil. It has recorded only two deaths in more than a year, and apart from sporadic outbreaks, life has returned to normal since spring 2020.
A third dose of the vaccine is now being offered to Beijing residents over the age of 18 who have already been fully vaccinated for at least six months, according to the Xinjingbao daily (Beijing News), an official newspaper in the capital.
This decision comes as the city is in the final stretch before hosting the Winter Olympics (February 4-20, 2022), where athletes will remain in an airtight bubble and where only spectators living in China will be allowed.
Athletes will have the option of being fully vaccinated or undergoing a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in the territory.
According to Chinese health experts, the country must have vaccination coverage of around 85% to achieve herd immunity. The authorities are trying to achieve this goal before the end of the year.
Third-dose injection programs have already been announced in a dozen other provinces in recent weeks.
China aims to prevent any COVID-19 cases from appearing on its soil. A “zero infection” policy that is generally paying off so far, with only a handful of new patients being reported each day.
The authorities do not seem to want to relax this policy before the Olympics.
However, a new small outbreak linked to a group of tourists currently affects five provinces. It has caused the closure of transport, entertainment, schools and tourist attractions in some cities in Inner Mongolia (north) and Gansu (northwest).
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