State Council's inter-agency task force briefing on COVID-19 vaccination for key groups

The State Council's inter-agency task force held a press conference in Beijing on Saturday to brief the media about issues regarding COVID-19 vaccination among key groups of the population. December 19, 2020

South China Morning Post:

It was mentioned that inoculations will cover key groups, and the vaccines can enter the market conditionally afterwards. How many people will be inoculated? Which groups exactly will they be? Will enough vaccines be produced for them by the end of this year, or the first half of next year? And, can you give us any figures regarding the output? Thank you.

Mao Junfeng:

Thank you for your questions. The production capacity and output of the vaccines have attracted widespread attention. Vaccines are biological products, and it takes a lot of work to take them from small-scale preparation in laboratories to large-scale industrial production. General Secretary Xi Jinping shared his vision on linking-up vaccine R&D with industrial chains during an inspection visit into scientific research regarding the epidemic prevention and control in Beijing this March. Therefore, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has led the medical supplies support team of the State Council's inter-agency task force to resolutely implement his important instructions. We are working with the vaccine research leading group in accordance with the arrangements of the mechanism to closely track R&D progress and facilitate the industrial production of companies, so as to prepare everything for scaled-up production of the vaccines. Our efforts have mainly been in the following three aspects:

First, improving production scheduling. The ministry established a special leading group to guarantee vaccine production. We schedule the production capacity building of key enterprises on a weekly basis, and have also organized industry and information technology staff in relevant provinces and municipalities to communicate one-on-one with companies concerning any difficulties including those regarding land and capital.

Second, helping step up production capacity building. We have required businesses on all technical routes to develop production capacity. As you may know, the Beijing Institute of Biological Products and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products of China National Biotech Group, as well as Sinovac, have all fulfilled their tasks of building production capacity so far this year, and have also passed the biosafety inspections by multiple government departments. They are now well equipped for scaled-up production and can meet the inoculation needs of the currently designated key groups. We can organize large-scale production as soon as the administration authority for medical products approves the vaccines for entry into the market in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. Of course, other companies are also building up their production capacity in an orderly manner as planned. Please rest assured about that.

Third, ensuring smooth production and supply chains for the vaccines. Vaccine production is a complex process involving many links and technical requirements. We have therefore thoroughly reviewed the industrial and supply chains of COVID-19 vaccines, and guided companies to research and analyze the risks in the supply of their production materials. At the same time, we have promoted production and technological breakthroughs in some key materials, and facilitated communication between companies in these chains. We have also required manufacturers to increase their procurement and commercial reserves for certain key production materials from now on. This will ensure stable production and supply chains for the COVID-19 vaccines.

Going forward, the ministry will continue working in accordance with the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to improve production scheduling, and motivate companies to renovate facilities, improve production technologies and increase production capacity in a bid to do a good job organizing and guaranteeing vaccine production. Thank you.

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