The eastern Chinese city of Yiwu has stopped the sale of a coronavirus vaccine after dozens of people demanded to be inoculated over the weekend, underlining the popularity of the treatment that has not even completed late-stage clinical trials.
Hundreds of people in Yiwu stood in line for a coronavirus vaccine after the government opened up bookings to the general public, the BBC reported on Sunday. The local government had said on Friday it would allow people to be vaccinated on an “emergency use” basis, a day after the neighboring city of Jiaxing announced the same.
The vaccine in Yiwu was made by a private company, Sinovac Biotech, according to The Paper, a Shanghai-based news website. Sinovac’s vaccine is in Phase 3 trials, the last stage of clinical trials before approval. Scientists have warned that taking a vaccine before the completion of clinical trials carries health risks.
On Sunday, The Beijing News, a state-run newspaper, cited a person familiar with the Yiwu health department as saying that the supply of vaccines had stopped and that people should not travel to the city to be vaccinated. But a representative from Yiwu’s center for disease control and prevention told The New York Times that local hospitals were still providing coronavirus vaccinations. He declined to confirm whether the sale had been suspended or provide more details.
According to the newspaper, the local government’s intention was to find out what demand was like for “emergency users,” defined mainly as people who had to travel from Yiwu, an export powerhouse in China.
The high demand for the vaccine in China highlights the potential shortfall that local governments could face once a treatment is approved. Unlike in the United States — where a growing number of polls have found that many people would not get a coronavirus vaccine in part because they feel the Trump administration is pushing for its approval before fully weighing the safety and efficacy data — many people in China are flocking to get one.
China has indicated it would expand the number of “emergency users” for a vaccination program, saying it plans to target people at higher risk of being exposed to the virus such as travelers and health care workers. Tens of thousands of people have already been vaccinated, including government officials and executives of vaccine companies.
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