Corona virus: vaccination certificate mandatory in China
Beijing With incentives and bans, the Chinese authorities are increasing the pressure on the unvaccinated and people with insufficient vaccination protection. In Beijing, proof of vaccination must be presented in fitness studios, cinemas or cultural institutions from next week.
In the future, medical staff, delivery services and conference visitors will have to prove that they have been vaccinated. In addition, older people are only allowed to participate in senior activities if they are vaccinated. This was announced by the municipal health commission on Wednesday evening. However, it is still unclear how many vaccinations are required.
It would be the first time that Chinese authorities have requested proof of vaccination or introduced compulsory vaccination for certain occupational groups. The new regulation and the short-term announcement were sometimes heavily criticized on social media.
But in other cities in China, too, attempts are being made to increase the willingness to vaccinate, especially among the elderly, by means of bonuses such as supermarket vouchers or bans. Several Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an are grappling with new outbreaks of the infections.
In China, more than 89 percent of the population has been vaccinated twice, and around 55 percent have also received a booster vaccination. Just three contacts with the virus, whether through vaccination or infection, are considered sufficient protection against serious illness or even death.
Vaccination quota for older people makes sense
Studies from Hong Kong, among others, have shown that three doses of the traditional inactivated vaccines available in China are almost as effective as mRNA vaccines. With the exception of Hong Kong and Macau, the latter have not yet been approved in China, nor have other non-Chinese vaccines.
Experts see a higher vaccination rate, especially among older people, as a prerequisite for relaxing the strict zero-Covid policy. 83 percent of over-60s in China had been double-vaccinated by the end of June, figures from the National Health Bureau show. However, just under 65 percent had received a third dose. The rate is particularly low among those over 80 years of age.
China’s officials keep emphasizing that protecting people, especially the elderly, is the main reason for sticking to the strict zero-Covid policy. The zero-case strategy means that even in the case of individual corona cases, entire blocks of houses or even residential areas are hermetically sealed off. The financial metropolis of Shanghai was almost completely under lockdown in April and May.
The lockdowns have severely damaged the Chinese economy in recent months. That’s also why we asked including company representatives, to increase the vaccination rate and allow foreign mRNA vaccines in China as well.
Some insurance companies promise people over 60 in the event of side effects or even death in connection with a Covid vaccination.
Recently, there has been increasing misunderstanding as to why the Chinese authorities are not speeding up the vaccination campaign. This also led to speculation as to whether it might be intentional to maintain a higher level of control and isolation from foreign countries under the guise of pandemic protection measures.
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Even top Chinese health experts stress that vaccination is the only way to end the pandemic. Hou Zhiyuan, Zang Shujie and Qu Zhiqiang, health experts at Shanghai’s Fudan University, emphasized that it was “urgently necessary” to speed up the vaccination campaign for the elderly in an article in the Chinese online medium “The Paper” in mid-June.
It is essential to fully immunize 90 to 95 percent of the elderly population. The time from June is therefore an “important time window”. If this is missed, a new peak of the pandemic threatens in winter.
With the current pace of vaccination, however, it is difficult to achieve the desired vaccination rate. They advised using “incentives and restrictions” to target the elderly population.
Insurance against vaccinations
Unlike in many Western countries, where older and sick people were the first to be vaccinated against Covid, in China only young, healthy people were initially vaccinated with one of the domestic inactivated vaccines available in China. Apparently, this has led parts of the population to doubt the safety of the vaccines.
There was also a disinformation campaign against foreign vaccines, for example from Biontech or Modernasometimes even in state media, in which alleged serious side effects were discussed in detail.
This is unlikely to have contributed to building trust either. Anyway, the reputation of Sinovacone of the two main Chinese Covid vaccine manufacturers, not the best after several corruption scandals.
Last but not least, the zero-Covid policy has meant that a largely normal life was possible in China for the past two years before the current outbreaks. In particular, older people with few social contacts simply did not see the need to be vaccinated.
The fact that non-herbal active ingredients are viewed critically, especially by the elderly population, could also play a role: every medicine is sometimes also “poison”, as the saying goes, alluding to side effects.
In view of the ongoing skepticism, several cities had recently offered free insurance for people over 60, who would pay the equivalent of up to $75,000 in the event of side effects or even death associated with a Covid vaccination.
According to a report by the Financial Times, around 60,000 senior citizens have applied for insurance cover in Beijing alone since April. In view of the economic problems, the pressure to push ahead with the booster campaign seems to be increasing.
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At the end of June, the International Monetary Fund warned that the slow progress of the vaccination campaign was preventing consumption from recovering. According to the government’s plan, this should develop into an important pillar of the second largest economy in the world in order to reduce dependence on state investments and exports.
In April and May, however, consumer spending collapsed. Concerns about further lockdowns and the associated loss of income or even jobs mean that China’s consumers are holding onto their money.
More: Decline of a financial metropolis – How China’s strict regime is weakening Hong Kong