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China reveals it got WHO support for coronavirus vaccine emergency use

China reveals it got WHO support for coronavirus vaccine emergency use

The World Health Organization supported China’s campaign to vaccinate certain people against coronavirus in July while clinical trials were still under way, a Chinese health official said on Friday, although some experts have expressed concern about the move.
China launched its emergency programme in July, having communicated with the WHO in late June, according to Zheng Zhongwei, a National Health Commission official.
Hundreds of thousands essential workers and other limited groups of people considered at high risk of infection have been given the vaccine, even though its efficacy and safety had not been fully established as Phase 3 clinical trials were incomplete, raising concerns among experts.
“At end-June, China’s State Council approved a plan of COVID-19 vaccine emergency use program,” Zheng told a news conference. “After the approval, on June 29, we made a communication with the relevant representatives of the WHO Office in China, and obtained support and understanding from WHO,” Zheng said.
Countries have autonomy to issue emergency use authorization for any health product according to the national regulations and legislations, Dr. Mariangela Simão, assistant director-general at the WHO, said on Friday at a news conference in Geneva.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said earlier this month that emergency use authorization for coronavirus vaccine is a “temporary solution,” and that the long-term solution lay in completion of Phase 3 trials.
Beijing has not publicly released full details of its emergency use programme. At least three vaccine candidates, including two developed by state-backed China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and one from Sinovac Biotech, all in Phase 3 trials overseas, are included in the emergency use programme.
China detected its first local asymptomatic infections in more than a month after two port workers who unloaded frozen seafood tested positive, adding to alarm that contaminated imports could be transmitting the coronavirus. The two cases, found in Shandong province’s Qingdao city during testing of port workers, were the first symptom-free cases that China has reported since August 20. China hasn’t reported any local symptomatic infections since August 15 either.

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