State Council's interagency task force briefing on promoting COVID-19 vaccination

The State Council's interagency task force held a press conference on Monday in Beijing to brief the media about issues on promoting COVID-19 vaccination. March 19, 2021

The Straits Times: 

In the beginning, China's vaccination program appeared to be ahead of all other countries, but the rate of inoculation seems to have slowed in recent months. Is this because of the hesitation that you mentioned earlier? And other plans to release more clinical trial data so people are less worried? 

Li Bin:

Just now I briefed you on the current situation of vaccination. So far, 64.98 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in China, and the inoculation program is now being promoted in a steady and orderly manner. We have been paying close attention to public's willingness to get vaccinated during our inoculation work. Next, we will vigorously advance the vaccination program and constantly improve vaccine rollout.

Guangming Daily:

We know that vaccines are products that need tight supervision. They have to go through the lot release process before they are authorized for the market. Can China's current lot release capacity meet the demand for the large-scale production of COVID-19 vaccines? Thank you.

Li Bin:

Mr. Yuan will answer this question.

Yuan Lin:

Thank you for your question. Vaccines are products that need key and strict regulation. Lot release must be taken as the bottom line or even the red line to ensure the quality and safety of the vaccines. At the same time, lot release is also an internationally accepted, effective and powerful regulatory measure for vaccines and other biological products. I mentioned China's Vaccine Management Law just now—the first of its kind in the world which took effect on Dec. 1, 2019. The law clearly stipulates that vaccines entering China's market, both those produced domestically and imported ones, should undergo the lot release process in accordance with the law. More specifically, each lot of vaccines, before their release onto the market, need to be tested and approved by nationally recognized lot release institutions. The NMPA attaches great importance to enhancing China's lot release capacity, and has made timely and comprehensive analyses of the country's current strength of vaccine production and lot release. With the strong support and coordination of relevant departments, we have planned ahead and adopted phased and step-by-step measures in advance to further intensify and accelerate the capacity building of biological products lot release and of the relevant testing institutions. What gratifies us is that at present, the national medical products testing institutions and those at the provincial (municipality) level including Beijing, Hubei and Guangdong, have all gained the capacity to carry out lot release for COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, we are actively promoting the capacity building of other provincial-level drug testing institutions. It is expected that a dozen new institutions will be able to conduct lot release for vaccines in the near future, which will continuously meet the needs for coronavirus vaccine lot release in China.

Simultaneously, we are stepping up efforts to constantly improve our testing quality and efficiency to keep pace with the production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines. We require all the lot release institutions to strengthen their management, to conduct tests on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in accordance with legal requirements and national standards, and to ensure the quality of the lot release work. To actively keep pace with the country's rising production capacity of the coronavirus vaccines, we demand that on the premise of ensuring quality, testing institutions should tap internal potential and improve efficiency. We also require that the institutions' testing work and vaccine manufacturers' statutory self-checks are started, conducted and completed simultaneously, which has greatly shortened the time it takes for COVID-19 vaccines to enter the market. Through the continuous efforts of the national medical products administration system to enhance the lot release capacity, we can fully ensure the effective coordination and consistency of the coronavirus vaccine lot release capability and manufacturers' continuously increasing production capacity and output. This will ultimately guarantee the smooth administering of COVID-19 vaccines. Thank you. 

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