Large-scale vaccination in Beijing ahead of Chinese New Year

Steph Deschamps / January 4, 2020


Thousands of Pekingese lined up in freezing cold Monday to be vaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of the great Chinese New Year migration, with authorities seeking at all costs to avoid a new epidemic wave.


In the capital alone, more than 73,000 people received a first dose of the vaccine between Friday and Sunday, the press reported, adding that municipal workers and bus drivers were among the first to receive the injection. Medical authorities announced Thursday that they had given a conditional green light to the generalization of a first Chinese-made vaccine, whose producer, Sinopharm, claims an effectiveness rate of 79%.


In a large park in eastern Beijing, vaccine candidates were asked to complete an electronic form on Monday using their mobile phones, specifying that they have no contraindications to inoculation. They then had to board a bus bound for a temporary vaccination center installed inside the park. Some wore two surgical masks on their faces. Without waiting for the official green light from medical authorities, China has already started vaccinating millions of people as early as last summer, including caregivers, students leaving for abroad or diplomats.


No less than 4.5 million doses have already been administered, authorities said last week. The country, where Covid-19 first emerged just a year ago, plans to speed up vaccination as the Chinese New Year approaches, which this year falls on February 12. These festivities usually result in the largest migration in the world, when millions of workers leave major cities to return to their families. The railways expect to run 407 million trips during the New Year's holiday period, Jan.28 to March 8. In order to avoid congestion, additional trains will be put into service and some universities have already closed their doors to allow students to return home in advance. Some will thus benefit from more than two months of vacation. If the country has largely eradicated the epidemic, it still reported on Monday 33 new cases of contamination in the last 24 hours, the highest figure for nearly two months.