China and other Asian countries vaccinate against Covid-19 faster than ever – .

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China and other Asian countries vaccinate against Covid-19 faster than ever – .



SEOUL — The deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine has accelerated in many countries in Asia-Pacific in recent weeks, outpacing the pace of doses administered in the United States and other Western countries and increasing the chances of a earlier than expected easing of some pandemic restrictions.

China now accounts for about half of the 33 million Covid-19 vaccines worldwide administered each day, with four-fifths of adults in Beijing having received a single dose. Over the past month, South Korea has increased the number of daily doses administered ten-fold, to around 700,000. Japan and Australia, adjusted for population, currently administer more doses per day than the states. -United or Israel, where daily absorption has slowed.

The pace of immunization has slowed in countries that have widely distributed doses and are now facing declining demand and hesitation. The United States has vaccinated 52% of its population and Israel, where the world’s fastest deployment has occurred, has reached 63%.

About one in five people in Asia has received a single dose of the vaccine, doubling since early May, but still behind 37% in Europe and 40% in North America, according to the most recent figures from Our World in Data. Almost three-quarters of the world’s daily vaccines are now given in Asia, up from around half just a few weeks ago.

The fact that Asia is finally accelerating, after months of scarcity, with initial supply largely directed to the West, has boosted some projections of global deployment.

By the end of the month, about a quarter of the world’s population will have received a single injection of Covid-19, according to a recent report by Goldman Sachs, up from an earlier projection of 17%. About half of the world could be vaccinated by November, estimates Goldman Sachs.

“The world is looking for a more adequate supply of vaccines, which means more of the population will be vaccinated,” said Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore . “But until a large part of the world’s population is protected from Covid, the virus will mutate in different forms, so we will still need management measures. “

A healthcare worker prepared a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Kobe, Japan earlier this month.

Photo:
Issei Kato / Reuters

The road ahead remains daunting. Deployments in many Asian countries are still in their infancy, with the most willing individuals lining up for shots. Developing countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia are struggling to obtain supplies.

China, Taiwan and Malaysia have all seen new outbreaks in recent weeks, while Thailand grapples with its worst wave of new cases.

The threat of new variants is also taking hold in the region. Preliminary studies have also indicated that the Delta variant of the virus, first identified in India, somewhat erodes the effectiveness of vaccines against infection, but health experts say two injections still offer strong protection against the infection. serious illnesses and hospitalization.

The rapid rise in vaccinations in Asia is the result of several factors. Vaccine makers can pump more supply after investing in new production sites or entering into local contract manufacturing agreements. So there is more to do. Some parts of the region also offer incentives for people to get the vaccine, such as raffles or the prospect of travel bubbles.

Deployments by some Asian governments have been delayed by limited vaccine approvals. Japan had only authorized a vaccine manufactured by Pfizer Inc.

and BioNTech SE, but in recent weeks has also given its approval to Moderna doses Inc.

et AstraZeneca PLC.

South Korea endorsed Johnson & Johnson‘s

vaccine, as well as the three that Japan has authorized. Australia has approved the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. China uses doses of Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Sinopharm produced in the country.

Even with more vaccines available, some wish the wait hadn’t been so long for vaccination campaigns to finally kick off. The recent lockdowns in Australia, in response to an increase in infections in the state of Victoria and the city of Melbourne, cost the economy around $ 2 billion, said Adrian Esterman, chairman of the department of biostatistics and epidemiology from the University of South Australia.

“It’s expensive not to get people vaccinated,” Esterman said.

Recent closures have cost the economy around $ 2 billion in Australia, where vaccinations have been administered in cities like Melbourne.

Photo:
Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Earlier this year, China was distributing one million doses per day, a level attributed in part to production capacity restrictions. Effective pandemic control measures and few reported cases of the virus have made many members of the public feel less rushed to get vaccinated.

But authorities have used recent outbreaks to encourage vaccinations, and the campaign is now distributing around 17 million vaccines per day. China initially targeted large international cities such as Beijing and Shanghai before moving to smaller cities. Neighborhood committees knocked on doors to help register people for vaccination, workplaces distributed registration sheets, and supermarkets offered free products to those vaccinated.

Six weeks ago, Japan administered a dose to 2% of its population; the rate was 6% in South Korea, according to Our World in Data. Today, the share of people vaccinated has increased to 16% and 29%, respectively. More and more people have become eligible for the vaccine in South Korea, from the elderly and medical staff to teachers, police and military personnel this month.

“Last month my parents were still waiting to be vaccinated, but now I hear that my colleagues and my children’s teachers were also vaccinated,” said Jane Lee, a 37-year-old office worker in Seoul.

Health care workers monitored Covid-19 patients at a Bangkok field hospital on Tuesday.

Photo:
Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

South Korea surpassed its initial target of vaccinating a quarter of its 52 million people by June after receiving its long-awaited orders for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. South Korea is now on track to deliver a dose to 70% of its population by September, a target set by the government earlier this year.

The South Korean government, seeking to avoid having unused stocks, created a real-time reservation system for the remaining vaccines and used the country’s most popular courier and web portal for assistance. ‘help. On the apps, ineligible groups compete to reserve the few vaccines available in neighboring facilities. Spaces are scarce: some 98% of vaccines booked by eligible groups are given, officials said.

Starting next month, authorities plan to exempt fully vaccinated people from mask warrants and a mandatory two-week quarantine after returning from overseas trips. Some local governments offer discounts for vaccinees at golf courses and museums.

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Japan faced a similar delayed rollout, despite securing 364 million doses of the vaccine, nearly triple the injections needed for its population. It had the slowest rollout among the Group of Seven countries, as local laws demanded additional clinical trials on the Japanese, which slowed vaccine approvals.

Japan, where a shortage of medical personnel was a major obstacle in addition to slow vaccine imports, has recruited retired nurses and dentists to administer doses ahead of the Summer Olympics, which are expected to begin this month. next. Mass vaccination sites are set up in workplaces and on university campuses.

Australia has expanded vaccine eligibility and has called in the military to oversee its vaccination campaign. In the past two months, the country has doubled the share of its population vaccinated to 21%. Qantas Airways Ltd.

is offering discounts and handing out prizes to those vaccinated, although Australia’s borders have been largely closed for more than a year.

Waiting to be vaccinated at a Seoul medical center earlier this month.

Photo:
Yonhap/Shutterstock

Singapore, one of the first Asian countries to start vaccinations, has administered a dose to more than 40% of its population and is discussing travel bubbles with South Korea and Australia.

Greater vaccine availability across Asia-Pacific heightens hope that regional tourism could rebound, a key economic lifeline for many places. A third of Vietnamese tourists and a quarter of Thai tourists came from China before the pandemic, according to local tourism statistics.

While borders are unlikely to open fully this year, the acceleration of vaccinations means that strict travel restrictions in parts of Asia could be relaxed faster than expected. The lifting of economically damaging social distancing restrictions will likely bring some relief to Asian economies as well.

Satoru Kobayashi, a 63-year-old Japanese pensioner, said his hobby was traveling but he had not been able to do so since the start of the pandemic. While waiting for his wife to get vaccinated at a Tokyo vaccination center, Mr Kobayashi said he would get the shot if it meant he could travel again.

“I don’t like wasting money, but I’m willing to spend it on travel,” he said.

Write to Dasl Yoon at [email protected]

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