On July 23, an official from China’s National Health Commission (NHC) confirmed that all of “China’s incumbent Party and state leaders have completed vaccination against coronavirus”, and that they did so with vaccines developed in China.
Confirmation about Chinese leaders' vaccination statuses
China remains a strict adherent of the “Zero-Covid” policy, with stringent lockdowns enacted when cases of Covid-19 are detected.
An example of this was the weeks-long lockdown instituted in Shanghai between March and June this year.
The economic impact of this approach has been significant. According to Bloomberg, China’s growth was limited to 0.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2022, the slowest growth since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
China has yet to institute a vaccine mandate. This is despite having had access to one of the earliest Covid-19 vaccines. The Sinovac vaccine has been available since February 2021.
According to Reuters, together with Sinopharm, these vaccines are the main thrust of China’s vaccine distribution, both domestically and internationally. China is in the process of developing its own mRNA vaccines, but has yet to do so.
Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the NHC, said in a press conference on July 23 that all of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) and state leaders, which would include Xi Jinping and other Standing Committee members, had been vaccinated using vaccines developed in China.
According to Xinhua, Zeng said that 92.1 per cent of China’s population had received at least one dose of vaccine, with 89.7 percent being fully vaccinated, and 71.7 per cent having received a booster shot.
But amongst those aged 60 and above, the proportion fell, with 89.6 per cent fully vaccinated, 84.7 per cent fully vaccinated, and 67.3 receiving a booster shot.
Zeng also did not confirm when or with which vaccine China’s leaders had been vaccinated with, or why their vaccination status was only now being revealed.
According to Bloomberg, China’s sole attempt at a vaccine mandate was due to take effect in the capital Beijing on July 11, but was ultimately not put into place when residents complained.
Bloomberg attributed the backdown to resident’s feelings that the mandate illegally limited their freedom, as well as doubts over the efficacy of vaccines, especially in the face of new Covid variants such as Omicron.
This adds context to Zeng’s statement that China's leadership’s vaccination “fully demonstrates that Chinese leaders attach great importance to Covid-19 prevention and control and have high trust in the vaccines produced by the country.”
Top photo via Ministry of Health/FB & Getty Images