China has granted emergency approval for the use of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine in children aged three and older, becoming the first nation to open its inoculation program to individuals who are that young.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Sinovac confirmed that the company’s Covid vaccine has been “approved for emergency use in three- to 17-year-olds". However, the manufacturer did not provide any information on when those children would start to receive the jab.
The National Health Commission in China is responsible for outlining the schedule for the country’s vaccine rollout, and it will update its plans to include children who are authorized to receive it “according to China’s current epidemic prevention and control needs and vaccine supply.”
Sinovac has successfully completed early phase trials of its Covid vaccine in both children and adolescents, with plans to make the data publicly available in a scientific journal in the near future.
The news had been rumored over the weekend, after Chinese state TV reported than an unnamed official in the country’s State Council epidemic response task force had told reporters that “the safety and effectiveness” of the vaccine in children had been confirmed.
Sinopharm, which makes China’s other main domestically produced vaccine, has also stated that its data shows it is safe and effective in young children, but it did not reveal whether officials had or were set to approve it for emergency use.
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Both the Sinovac and Sinopharm jabs are on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of Covid vaccines approved for emergency use in adults aged 18 and older. The WHO is not yet recommending vaccinating children, despite some nations announcing plans to do so.
On Monday, China’s national health authority confirmed that the country has administered more than 777 million Covid vaccine doses to individuals throughout the country, the largest number of any nation by a significant margin.
Since the start of the pandemic, China, where the virus was first detected, has seen 114,474 confirmed cases and 5,106 deaths, according to official data provided to the World Health Organization.
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