Chinese county preparing to offer coronavirus vaccine to residents

BEIJING (Reuters) – A small county in China has said it is preparing to offer novel coronavirus vaccinations to residents for about $65, one of a handful of places in China considering inoculation for members of the general public.

A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in front of displayed China flag in this illustration taken, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

China is inoculating specific groups of people considered at high risk of infection, such as medical workers and border inspectors, with vaccines still in late-stage clinical trials, under an emergency use programme started in July.

Authorities in Tangyuan county in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang said late on Tuesday that people at state-backed agencies, companies, public institutions and individual businesses who wanted to get vaccinated could report their interest.

Residents would pay 420 yuan ($64.20), including fees for syringes, the injection and insurance, to have two doses administered at a 28-day interval, the county, which has a population of about 270,000, said in a statement posted on the WeChat social media platform.

The county was gauging demand for inoculations and had yet to start buying vaccines, said a member of staff who responded to a call on a number for enquiries listed in the statement.

It did not say whether residents would be subject to any screening requirements based on their jobs or risk of exposure to virus.

Heilongjiang province has confirmed 10 locally transmitted novel coronavirus cases in the latest outbreak starting from Dec. 10, ending a nearly four month-long streak of no local infections.

Zhejiang province has included voluntary vaccination for non-priority members of the general public in its emergency use plan.

Sichuan province could start vaccinating the elderly and people with underlying conditions at the beginning of next month, after it completes inoculations for priority groups, officials have said.

Separately, Jiangxi province will buy two vaccines, one developed by Sinovac Biotech and the other by Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a unit of state-backed Sinopharm, at 200 yuan ($30.57) a shot, government procurement record showed on Tuesday.

Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo in Beijing


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