The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it is assessing two COVID-19 vaccines produced by Chinese firms for “potential emergency use listing.”
The WHO said it is evaluating data submitted by China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm, Chinese broadcaster CGTN reported on Wednesday.
A team is working with the companies “to assess compliance with international quality manufacturing practices ahead of potential emergency use listing by the WHO,” the report said.
Beijing has signed deals with at least 24 countries for supply of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.
Brazil, Indonesia, and Turkey are among the countries which have already received shipments and started vaccinations, while China too has administered over 22 million doses.
Zeng Yixin, deputy head of China’s National Health Commission (NHC), told a news conference on Wednesday: “The vaccination scheme is rolling out smoothly and the number of people who are willing to be inoculated is increasing.”
People on the frontline and in high-risk positions are being prioritized for vaccination, he said, with the main focus being on people working at ports, transport hubs, medical institutions, and in the public service industry.
Cases rise, testing ramped up
According to the daily NHC update, 75 new infections were recorded across China over the past day, with 55 of them being cases of local transmission.
The new cases brought the country’s caseload since December 2019 to 89,272, including 4,636 deaths and 82,774 recoveries.
Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces, which have been at the center of the fresh outbreak in China, accounted for 29 and 14 of the new indigenous cases, respectively.
Seven more domestic infections were in Hebei province, four in the capital Beijing, and one in Shanghai, according to the NHC report.
In a bid to curb the creeping new wave of infections, China has increased its daily testing capacity to over 15 million.
The country will observe a week-long break for the Lunar New Year from Feb. 12, with authorities advising people to refrain from traveling.
However, Zeng, the NHC official, said the policy encouraging people to stay in the cities where they live and work “is not mandatory.”
“People from high and medium-risk regions shall have to adopt the policy, but it is only a recommendation for low-risk regions,” he said.