The Chinese government has announced that it will be mixing COVID-19 vaccines while inoculating citizens during the upcoming booster shot vaccination campaign.
In an interview with state-backed broadcaster CCTV, Zheng Zhongwei, an official at the National Health Commission (NHC), insisted that the new policy will help minimize deaths and severe illness arising from the infection. This would give the country enough time to adjust COVID-19 regulations.
“Whether boosting with the same or a different technology, the levels of [neutralizing] antibodies will grow significantly in both cases… While sequential boosting increases levels of neutralizing antibodies even more, [using] the same technology is relatively better tolerated,” Zheng said. Having neutral antibodies in the body is a sign that the person has developed immunity to the COVID-19 virus.
Zheng went on to claim that the agency has done “a series of follow up studies” on mixed vaccine combinations; it “seems” safety will not be an issue. Irrespective of which variant is being targeted, mixing the vaccines will ensure “better results” against the infection by boosting people’s immunity. Zheng said that an “optimal combination” of booster shots will be soon introduced.
According to data from the NHC, China has administered 2.396 billion COVID-19 shots as of Nov. 15. Over three-quarters of the population are now fully vaccinated. As of early November, more than 38 million had received a booster shot. Beijing is using four domestically produced vaccines in its booster shot campaign. This includes the Sinovac vaccine which displayed just 51 percent efficacy in a phase 3 trial in Brazil.
Communist China sees surge in COVID-19 cases
The decision to mix vaccines comes as some parts of communist China are witnessing a surge in COVID-19 infections. In the northeastern port city of Dalian, 52 cases were reported on Nov. 11, which was the highest daily count in a Chinese city since the middle of October. Authorities have responded to the wave of infection by shutting down schools, restricting outbound travel, and closing cultural venues. The coronavirus restrictions have resulted in a 96.5 percent drop in the number of people traveling out of the city. Officials have instructed residents to not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.
“Various measures should be quickened and their quality should be improved, in order to get the outbreak under control in a shorter amount of time and to minimize the outbreak’s impact on manufacturing and life of the general public,” the NHC said on Nov. 11 after a meeting held by the commission’s Dalian director.
Almost 1,500 students from Zhuanghe University City have been instructed to remain within their dormitories. Hundreds of students were transferred to hotels and kept under observation. Students are now attending class remotely while having their meals delivered to them.
Meanwhile, the killing of a dog by COVID-19 prevention workers has attracted intense criticism from the public. The dog was owned by a person who was in quarantine. In a video captured by a security camera, two workers can be seen beating the dog on its head with a rod. After the dog runs into a room, the workers follow and later emerge with an object inside a plastic bag. The workers were apparently in the region to disinfect residential buildings.
Authorities claimed that the dog was “disposed of harmlessly” and that the people responsible for its death have apologized to the owner. However, this explanation did not sit well with netizens who were furious at the incident.
“The point is that the dog was not even confirmed with the coronavirus. They just directly beat it to death — how can they be this cruel,” one social media user wrote. The hashtag “Don’t treat other people’s pets like animals” was viewed 230 million times on Weibo.