FAQs on COVID-19 Vaccines Go back »

2021-02-10 | All chapters

FAQs on COVID-19 Vaccines

On 29th January, the European Chamber held a webinar Vaccinating for a Safer 2021: The Future of Vaccine Industry in China. Questions and answers from this webinar have been compiled for members to better understand COVID-19 vaccines. 

1.     How will vaccinations be rolled out for foreigners in China?

Official vaccination registration for foreign residents is not available in most parts of China. However, foreigners who are categorised in priority groups in China can register for the vaccine through the organization they work for in some cities.

According to the vaccine information, domestic vaccines need to be administered twice with four weeks between each appointment. The vaccine will be injected into the shoulder.

Over 15 million vaccines for Covid-19 have been administered in China already; a lower percentage of the population compared to the United States. 18 billion vaccines will be manufactured by the end of 2021.

2.     How many types of Covid-19 vaccines are available in China and which type of Covid-19 vaccines are recognized in China compared to Europe and the US?

China has approved the SinoPharm vaccine, while SinoVac and Cansino BIO vaccines have been approved for limited use.

The US recognizes two vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, respectively. European countries have different criteria; France, for instance, is currently recognizing the same two vaccines as the US.

3.     How effective are the vaccines in China compared to other countries?

According to the Coronavirus vaccine tracker, there are four vaccines approved for full use and four vaccines approved for early or limited use (up till 9th February 2021).

SinoVac: A Brazilian study shows that it has an efficacy of 80% for mild, moderate and severe patients.

SinoPharm: A study from the UAE shows an efficacy of 86%.

Both vaccines are effective in preventing severe symptoms of the disease. However, the SinoPharm vaccine prevents infection and presumably will be more widely distributed in China.

4.     What do you think are the chances of large, foreign-developed vaccines being approved in China?

It depends on the decision of the manufacturer and China’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

5.     Why is the vaccine in China not given to those below 18 and above 59? Are there any restrictions for those with special health conditions (e.g., gravidas, chronic respiratory ailments, diabetes, kids, elderly etc.)?

A common procedure for vaccination comprises of three phases. It gradually expands from the working and young population (age 18-59) to the higher-risk and elderly population. China is still in its first phase. Notably, Phase III clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine for the individuals under the age of 18 are still underway.

According to the government, people who are allergic to the vaccine’s ingredients, (those with fever or acute illnesses, pregnant women, women preparing for pregnancy in 6 months, etc.), should not receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Doctors at vaccine sites will provide consultation to individuals who are unclear about their suitability for the vaccine.

6.     Will the vaccine prevent a person from contracting and/or transmitting the virus? Will a vaccination only prevent illness?

Individuals can still get infected after vaccination, yet the symptoms are relatively mild and those infected can still transmit the virus.

Vaccinated people still need to wear a mask, maintain personal hygiene and social distance.

7.     How long will it take for the vaccine to become effective?

 The positive rate of antibodies is over 90%, 28 days after the second injection.

8.     What is the interval between the first and second injection? Are there any restrictions (travel, daily activities, etc.) after receiving the first vaccination?

There is a four week interval between vaccination appointments. If the second vaccination appointment is missed, it is recommended to schedule a second vaccination time as soon as possible. The second vaccine administered to the individual must be the same as the vaccine given to them the first time.

9.     Will travel be restricted if an individual does not vaccinate themselves? For those who have vaccinated, can they enter China despite an entry ban? Will they be exempted from quarantine after entering China?

It depends on the latest policies made by each country’s government.

According to past experiences, the Chinese government has a very low tolerance on the number of Covid-19 cases, so there may not be travel restrictions or quarantine measures being lifted any time soon, especially since the vaccine is not 100% effective.

10.  Are the Covid-19 vaccination costs covered by the state or individuals?

The Chinese government will cover the cost of the vaccine for all Chinese citizens.

11.  What is the minimum effectiveness required for the Covid-19 vaccine (79% vs. 90%)?

There is no unified international standard. However, anything above 70% would work. 

12.  How can we measure the safety of a Covid-19 vaccine and what are the possible side effects? Is there a central contact point for side effects suffered after inoculation?

The efficacy rate is used to measure the safety, which is 79% for mainland China. The side effects of vaccines from different developers are shown on Page 12 of Dr. Jason’s slides. 80% of the adverse drug reactions (ADR) reported about Covid-19 vaccines are mild in China. The speaker considers two vaccines developed by China to be safe with very little side effects.

As for a central contact point for side effects, please check with your local health service centres or hospitals for more information.

13.  Can someone who has recovered from Covid-19 still infect others?

It is unlikely since the individual has developed antibodies against the virus. However, there may be exceptions for this.

14.  Where are the vaccines produced? How will they be delivered?

Eighteen companies in China are capable of manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines.

The major vaccine exporting country is the US. Based on the current world population, 15 billion vaccines are required, 8 billion of which need to be internationally distributed. Strong logistics support will be needed.

15.  What is the impact of Covid-19 on China’s vaccine industry?

The impact of Covid-19 has caused a major innovative breakthrough in mRNA technology for China’s vaccine industry. The mRNA Covid-19 vaccines are revolutionary and will be widely used. The knowledge gained from this vaccine will influence the conceptualisation and manufacturing of other vaccines for infectious viral diseases for years to come.

As well, the accelerated export of China’s Covid-19 vaccines to foreign countries opens the door for exporting other vaccines. China’s demand for domestic vaccines will decrease the reliance on foreign vaccines and will provide a diverse market for vaccines for other countries in the future.

In addition to above-mentioned answers from experts to the questions asked by members, please see the European Chamber stance that includes the recommendations and in particular the recommendations to the Chinese government to bring clarification on a number of points.


Disclaimer: This is based on the webinar ‘Vaccinating for a Safer 2021: The Future of Vaccine Industry in China’ held on 29th January 2021. They represent the views of the speakers given in the context of the seminar. Policies are subject to frequent changes. This document is for informational purpose only and should not be construed as business or legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. We will not be responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.