China has opened up its domestic Covid-19 vaccination program to diplomats and foreign journalists in Beijing.
In a notice sent to foreign correspondents on Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) invited journalists to sign up for the Sinopharm vaccine on a voluntary basis. Diplomats from foreign missions, as well as any family members aged between 18 and 59, have also been offered the same.
A noticed accompanying the invitation said those signing up would need to sign a consent form, pay for their vaccines (180 RMB for two shots) and bear the related risks.
The advisory mentioned clinical trial data for the first time, claiming that 80 percent of adverse reactions to the vaccine have been categorized as “general”, six in 100,000 as “abnormal” (usually accounting for rashes), and only one in a million as “serious”. Typical reactions include pain at the injection site, itching, swelling, fatigue, fever, headache, muscle pain, cough and diarrhea.
The two shots should be administered 21 days apart, according to the notice. MOFA also advised recipients not to take another brand of vaccine within six months of inoculation.
Around 65 million people have already been vaccinated with Chinese-made products on the mainland, according to official data. Sinopharm and four other Chinese vaccines have been approved for emergency or general use in China, although all are yet to receive the backing of the World Health Organization. China has also not yet given approval to any foreign-made vaccines.
This week, the embassies of 20 countries announced that citizens who have taken a Chinese vaccine would again be allowed to apply for visas to visit China for work and family reunion purposes under pre-Covid requirements.
The Chinese government has confirmed, however, that vaccinated arrivals will still need to comply with Covid-19 prevention and control measures, including producing a negative nucleic acid test before travel and committing to a minimum of 14 days quarantine on arrival.
In most cases, however, letters of invitation and a travel and health declaration are no longer required.