China touts progress on vaccination because it searches for a approach to reopen

BEIJING — Mainland China on Tuesday announced significant progress in obtaining Covid-19 booster shots for people “over 80”.

As of Monday, 65.8% of this age group had received booster shots, an official told reporters.

That’s up from 40% on Nov. 11, according to previous disclosures.

China also announced a new push to further vaccinate its elderly population against Covid-19.

An official told a news conference that vaccination is still effective in preventing serious illness and death, and the elderly are among the biggest beneficiaries.

The document did not provide specific details on how the authorities would proceed to vaccinate more people.

Analysts have said vaccinating a larger proportion of the population would help put China on the path to reopening. So far, only Chinese-made vaccines are available locally.

The Covid vaccination rate for the elderly in China is generally below that of the US and Singapore.

China is pushing for immunizations among the elderly

Tuesday’s announcement and press conference followed a weekend of unrest as people in cities across China vented their frustration with Covid policies. Local officials had tightened measures in some areas, contrary to signals from Beijing earlier this month that suggested China was on track to reopen.

The weekend demonstrations weighed on market sentiment in Asia on Monday. There was no evidence of subsequent protests amid increased security.

Recent Covid controls in mainland China have negatively impacted 25.1% of national GDP as of Monday, according to a Nomura model. That’s above the previous peak of 21.2% recorded in April during lockdown in Shanghai.

When asked in English whether China was reconsidering its Covid policy after the protests, an official said only that the development of the virus had been monitored without further explanation.

The country reported its first drop in daily local infections in more than a week on Monday.

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