On Tuesday, Facebook said it was launching a new global policy that bans ads that discourage people from getting vaccines, while it will still allow ads that advocate for or against legislation of government policies around vaccines, including the Covid-19 vaccine. Things in China look quite different.
During the week following Golden Week, an advert linking to a survey and appointment for a vaccination for Covid-19 spread across WeChat Moments. The opening line of the ad – are you willing to take the Covid-19 vaccine? This Covid-19 vaccine was developed by CNBG/中国生物, an important bio-tech company under the Sinopharm Group. By October 13, over 160,000 people had made an appointment successfully. Another 802,000 clicked as willing to take the vaccination while 91,000 were still considering.
The official plan is to prioritise the vaccine to seven groups including medical personnel, disease control personnel, customs border inspection personnel, foreign-related work groups, urban life support personnel, front-line prevention and control personnel, and students who study abroad – students who plan to leave for study overseas between this November and January 2021 – will be given the priority and free vaccination. It says that within 2 weeks, people who signed up successfully will receive a confirmation SMS, with either Beijing or Wuhan the locations for the vaccination.
By 14 October, the appointment links – both the QR code and website now display a message that the ‘website is under maintenance’. Therefore, no further appointments could be made, even as the news about it spread over state media.
Sinopharm Group has developed two vaccines which entered clinical trials in early July this year with 480,000+ people to date according to the company. According to a speech by Yang Xiaoming, Chairman of Sinopharm Group, the progress of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine was faster than expected. It is anticipated to be listed at the end of 2020.
Last week, China officially joined the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility, a global COVID-19 vaccine project to ensure poorer countries have access to life-saving vaccines. Over 180 countries have signed up to COVAX, although the US and Russia have rebuffed. Either way, it is looking like a COVID-19 vaccination may not be too far away – let’s hope so!