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

Hong Kong Economic Herald:

The impact of mutations on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines has drawn both domestic and international attention. Regarding the vaccines approved for conditional marketing in China, how effective are they against coronavirus mutations? Thank you.

Li Bin: 

I'd like to invite Mr. Wang Junzhi to answer the question.

Wang Junzhi:

This is an issue of great concern both at home and abroad. Currently, we haven't found that mutated COVID-19 strains have had an obvious impact on the efficacy of domestic vaccines approved for conditional marketing. Companies developing the vaccines have conducted cross-neutralization tests and evaluations on mutant virus strains using immune serums. The latest study report still shows no obvious decrease in the neutralizing activity of both the inactivated vaccine and recombinant protein vaccine against new COVID-19 strains, including the strain discovered in South Africa. However, more follow-up studies are needed.

We need to attach great importance to this issue. The long-term spread of the virus may result in the accumulation of multiple mutations. When the accumulation reaches a certain level, it may undermine the protection given by vaccines. This risk does exist. In order to effectively counter the influence of virus mutations, we must take precautionary measures and actively prepare for this. I think the following two aspects are very important. First, we need to carry out close and real-time monitoring, collect variants quickly once they are detected, and then perform tests on them to identify their impact on vaccines. Second, we need to step up the development of vaccine platforms. By arranging five technical routes, China has already established a powerful platform for vaccine R&D. In addition, we are taking proactive measures to develop a new generation of vaccines so that we can roll out effective vaccines as quick as we can against new variants once mutations are proven to eliminate or greatly reduce the efficacy of existing vaccines. This is critical.

Generally, we need to improve our comprehensive capabilities to better deal with virus mutations in the future. This is the most important thing to do. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

The State Council's interagency task force briefing today is hereby concluded. Thank you all. Goodbye.

Translated and edited by Liu Sitong, Zhou Jing, Lin Liyao, Wang Zhiyong, Zhang Rui, Liu Qiang, Liu Jianing, Fan Junmei, Cui Can, Zhang Junmian, Xu Xiaoxuan, Li Huiru, Zhang Liying, Wang Qian, Wang Yiming, David Ball, Jay Birbeck, and Tom Arnstein. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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