BEIJING, April 21 (Reuters) - Residents of some parts of
China that are grappling with tight supplies of coronavirus
vaccines have not received their second doses in time, but the
crunch will ease by June as production is being stepped up, a
health official told state media.
The pace of China's massive inoculation campaign has slowed,
to a daily average of about 3.3 million doses in the seven days
until Monday, down from the corresponding figure of 4.2 million
in the week until April 12, Reuters calculations showed.
"At present, domestic vaccine supply is relatively tight,
but from May, especially after June, the situation will ease
significantly," Zheng Zhongwei, the director of a team
coordinating vaccine development projects, told the Global Times
in an interview.
Zheng did not say how severe the crunch was or which areas
experienced tightness. The Global Times, published by the
official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, did not say
how long people in those areas had to wait for the second shot.
By Wednesday, China had given more than 200 million doses of
vaccines, ranking only behind the United States, and it aims to
inoculate 40% of its population by summer.
Big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have widened
vaccination efforts to include foreigners, with the pace in some
cities outstripping the national average, as China prioritises
supplies to key provinces.
The capital city of Beijing, for example, has inoculated
more than half of its population of 21.5 million.
This month Zheng said China was likely to have produced 3
billion doses of the vaccines by year-end, allowing it to meet
the demand in the second half of 2021.
China's national guidelines allow intervals of up to eight
weeks between the two doses of vaccines developed by domestic
firms Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.
Local authorities should make sure the second dose can be
administered within eight weeks, said Mi Feng, a spokesman of
the National Health Commission.
"Avoid the situation where there's no dose following the
first one," he told a news conference on Wednesday.
(Global vaccination tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access/)
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Michael
Perry and Clarence Fernandez)