China considering mixing vaccines to improve efficacy

Chinese expert says country's vaccines do not have high rates of protection

BEIJINGChina is considering the mixing of different Covid-19 vaccines to improve the relatively low efficacy of its existing options, a top health expert has told a conference.

The authorities have to "consider ways to solve the issue that efficacy rates of existing vaccines are not high", Chinese media outlet The Paper reported, citing Dr Gao Fu, head of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

His comments mark the first time a top Chinese expert has publicly alluded to the relatively low efficacy of the country's four vaccines, as China forges ahead with its mass vaccination campaign and exports its jabs around the world.

China has administered around 161 million doses since vaccinations began last year - most people require two shots - and aims to fully inoculate 40 per cent of its 1.4 billion population by June.

But many have been slow to sign up for the jabs, with life largely back to normal within China's borders and domestic outbreaks under control.

At the conference in Chengdu on Saturday, Dr Gao added that an option to overcome the efficacy problem is to alternate the use of vaccine doses that tap different technologies.

This is an option that health experts outside China are studying as well.

Dr Gao said experts should not ignore mRNA vaccines just because there are already several coronavirus jabs in the country, urging for further development, The Paper reported.

Currently, none of China's jabs conditionally approved for the market are mRNA vaccines, but products that use the technology include those by US pharma giant Pfizer and German start-up BioNTech, as well as by Moderna.

South Korean authorities said yesterday they will move ahead with a vaccination drive this week after deciding to continue using AstraZeneca PLC's vaccine for all eligible people 30 years old or older.

On Wednesday, the country suspended providing the AstraZeneca shot to people under 60 as Europe reviewed cases of blood clotting in adults.

People under 30 will still be excluded from the vaccinations resuming today because the benefits of the shot do not outweigh the risks for that age group, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said in a statement. - AFP, REUTERS