Amid a global race to produce an effective vaccine against Covid-19, China has assured it will offer the vaccine by the end of December.
The China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) is set to release the vaccine into the market at a price less than USD 144 for two shots.
However, the news received different public opinions on Chinese social media platforms. In a Weibo’s survey of nearly 5,000 people, 2,527 respondents said they could not afford the vaccine and 2,127 said it is affordable.
According to the Sinopharm Chairman Liu Jingzhen, some major groups like medical workers and students could probably get the vaccine for free, while others are supposed to get vaccinated at their own expense.
He suggested that students and workers in cities should be vaccinated while people who live in rural areas with comparatively smaller populations do not have to.
According to Chinese health authorities, people can get the COVID-19 vaccine for free if the vaccine is included in the national immunization program, covering 14 injections against 15 diseases like polio and hepatitis B.
The Pharmaceutical Group started offering free voluntary injections to frontline medical workers in some public hospitals on an urgent basis in late July.
Earlier in June, it also offered the vaccine to some employees of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) preparing to go abroad.
In June, two inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by Sinopharm were delivered for phase III clinical trials in the United Arab Emirates.
One institute under Sinopharm in Beijing with a capacity to produce 120 million doses per year has passed a biological safety inspection and is ready for production. Another institute in Wuhan can produce 100 million doses per year.