China has detected its first imported case of the new coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly around Britain, according to a publication run by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The variant was detected in a 23-year-old female student returning to China from Britain, who was tested in Shanghai on December 14, according to the latest edition of China CDC Weekly. The case “poses a great potential threat to the prevention and control of Covid-19 in China”, the publication said. Vaccine for general population Meanwhile, the drug regulator approved the country’s first coronavirus vaccine for general public use, a sign of confidence in the experimental shots the nation plans to roll out within and beyond its borders. China’s National Medical Products Administration gave the authorisation to a Covid-19 vaccine developed by state-owned China National Biotec Group, a unit of Sinopharm, officials told reporters in Beijing Thursday. With the approval, the vaccine — which has been authorised for emergency use in China since mid-year along with other frontrunner shots — will be made commercially available, meaning it can be administered to the general population. Regulators from the US to Singapore have approved shots over the past month, among them vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, but those have been largely for emergency use, a status China granted to its developers months ago. China will target members of the population at higher risk in its inoculations, among them the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, and then roll vaccines out to the general public, Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the country’s National Health Commission, said at the briefing. The country has already administered more than 4.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, with 3 million alone given since mid-December, Zeng said. It is said to be aiming to inoculate 50 million people against the virus by early February, ahead of the annual Lunar New Year holiday. The ratio of adverse reactions, including allergies, is about two in every 1 million, Zeng said Thursday. Vaccine for Pakistan Pakistan has decided to pre-book 1.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine developed by the Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm, the health ministry said here on Thursday, as the number of coronavirus cases reached 479,715 after 2,475 new infections were detected in the country. China on Thursday granted conditional approval to the country’s first homegrown Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinopharm.
The approval came a day after Sinopharm said its vaccine showed 79.34 per cent efficacy and a 99.52 per cent antibody-positive conversion rate in the interim results of Phase III clinical trials. The decision to procure the vaccine was made in the meeting of a special cabinet committee on Wednesday after Sinopharm said that its vaccine was 79.34 per cent effective, the Ministry of National Health Services said. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) has not yet approved the emergency use of the drug which once approved would be given free to all frontline health workers in the first quarter of 2021.