Chinese authorities moved overnight to boost vaccination rates among the country’s elderly in a move meant to pave the way for the eventual reopening of the country, boosting investor sentiment globally.
The CHA said it wanted to increase vaccination for those aged over 80 and said that the gap between vaccinations and boosters would be reduced to three months.
Nonetheless, according to Lee Hardman, senior currency analyst at MUFG, the briefing by officials from the National Health Commission and National Administration for Disease Control “disappointed more optimistic expectations for an imminent shift away from zero-Covid”.
“The announcement today is therefore a step in the right direction but does not prevent further economic disruption in the near-term should COVID cases continue to rise sharply and restrictions need to be re-tightened heading into year end,” the analyst added.
Tuesday’s announcements followed protests in several key Chinese cities over Beijing’s current zero-Covid policy.
Official estimates are that China only recorded 30,000 Covid-related deaths during the pandemic, versus over 1.0m in the US.
Yet as of August, data from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 86% of Chinese age 60 or more were fully vaccinated, against 92% in the US and in China 68% of seniors had been given a booster, versus 70% in America, CNBC reported.
That led the head of the White House Covid task force to argue overnight that Beijing should focus on that age group.
For his part, US infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, pointed out that Chinese vaccines were not very effective.
Chinese researchers themselves had previously pointed out that not enough older people had been enrolled in the clinical trials to test the vaccines, so that when immunizations began there was insufficient data as regarded safety and efficacy in the elderly.