An employee manually inspects syringes of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by SinoVac at its factory in Beijing on September 24.(AP)
China claimed on Friday that the World Health Organization (WHO) had conveyed its support for using experimental Covid-19 vaccines on high-risk groups during clinical trials in June.
The National Health commission (NHC) also said that China's annual production capacity of vaccines is expected to reach 610 million doses by end of this year and is forecast to reach 1 billion doses per year by 2021.
China had informed the WHO about inoculating high-risk groups on June 29, Zheng Zhongwei, director-general of NHC's Development Centre for Medical Science and Technology said at a press conference.
State media reported that China had approved the plan on June 24 and authorised emergency use of the vaccines on July 22.
The NHC had argued that under the Chinese vaccine management law, emergency vaccines were allowed to be used on certain people at high risk of contracting the disease, such as medical workers, frontline pandemic control workers and customs workers.
"After the approval, on June 29, we made a communication with the relevant representatives of the WHO Office in China, and obtained support and understanding from WHO," Zheng said.
High-risk groups also include workers at border ports, agricultural and sideline products, and frozen food markets besides the elderly, pregnant women, children, and patients with underlying diseases.
Speaking at the same press conference, Wu Yuanbin, director of the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development of the Ministry of Science and Technology, said four new coronavirus vaccines had entered phase 3 clinical trials.
Wu said that currently 11 new coronavirus vaccines in China had entered clinical trials.
Four vaccines entered Phase 3 clinical trials, of which three are inactivated vaccines and one an adenovirus vector vaccine.
The phase-3 clinical trials are being conducted in several countries in the Middle East, South America, and Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, two stevedores in east China's port city of Qingdao were reported as asymptomatic Covid-19 cases on Thursday.
The workers aged 40 and 45 had both handled imported frozen seafood on September 19.
Nucleic acid tests revealed they were positive for novel coronavirus on Thursday.
So far, 132 close contacts have been tracked and put under quarantine, official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.