Beijing Jan 9 — Chinese residents will not have to pay for voluntary COVID-19 vaccinations, officials said at a press conference in Beijing on Saturday.

COVID-19 vaccination fees in China – including the vaccine cost and service fees – will be jointly borne by the medical insurance fund and the government reserves, Li Tao, deputy head of China’s National Healthcare Security Administration said.

Herd immunity against the novel coronavirus requires a large proportion of the population to be vaccinated, therefore, extraordinary measures are needed to address the cost of vaccination, said Li.

The free vaccination scheme “is conducive to maximally safeguarding the fundamental interests of the people,” and it fully demonstrates China’s commitment to putting people’s health and life first, Li added.

The country has administered over 9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, said Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission.

Since the country officially rolled out vaccinations on December 15, nearly 7.5 million doses have been administered to key populations nationwide, said Zeng. These include workers in the cold-chain logistics sector, custom inspectors, health professionals, employees at government agencies and in public service sectors, community workers, as well as people who are to go abroad. 

Over 1.6 million people in high-risk groups had previously been inoculated.

“The vaccinations further prove the safety of China-developed COVID-19 vaccines,” said Zeng.

Free vaccines to the general public will be provided in a comprehensive and orderly manner, he said, after the country recently granted conditional marketing authorization to a Sinopharm-developed vaccine.

Supportive of WHO’s visit to China for virus origin-tracing

China has always attached great importance to tracing the origin of the novel coronavirus since the very beginning, said Zeng, adding “we are very supportive of the World Health Organization (WHO) to organize an expert panel to conduct the origin-tracing work in Wuhan, China.”

Four video meetings were held between experts from both sides, during which China had full and scientific discussions with the WHO panel. And an agreement has been reached on specific arrangements for the investigation, said Zeng.

Chinese experts are ready for the WHO expert team’s arrival, and relevant Chinese expert groups have been arranged to coordinate with the investigation, he said. “As soon as the WHO experts complete the procedures and finalize the schedule, we will go to Wuhan to join in and carry out the investigation work.”

Zeng stressed that China holds an active, open and supportive position on the WHO visit, and hopes the investigation will have some new information to further deepen the understanding of the origin of the virus and help better prevent and control the highly infectious disease in the future.


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