To better prepare for the potential COVID-19 surge during this year's autumn and winter seasons, China's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council issued a notice on Tuesday, calling for vaccinations for key sections of the population, such as senior citizens, recommending vaccines that contain the XBB variant antigen components as prioritized doses.
According to an update on the National Administration of Disease Control and Prevention's WeChat account, the target population are individuals aged 60 and above, or those aged 18 to 59 with severe underlying health conditions and compromised immune systems. People with high risk of infection are also included.
The targeted population should also have completed basic immunization or have previously been infected with COVID-19, read the notice.
As the XBB variant is still the prevalent variant in China, it is strongly recommended to prioritize vaccines containing the XBB variant antigen component, especially for this year's autumn and winter seasons.
The administration recommended a recombinant trivalent COVID-19 trimeric protein vaccine developed by WestVac Biopharma and West China Medical Center at Sichuan University, which is effective against the XBB, BA.5 and Delta variants, which has received emergency use approval in China in June, marking the world's first approved XBB-targeting vaccine.
Members of the target population who have completed basic immunization or have been infected with COVID-19 can receive one dose of the XBB-specialized vaccine, either three to six months after their last vaccination or six months after their most recent infection.
For those who have already received a vaccine containing the XBB variant antigen component, it is currently not recommended to receive other types of vaccines.
The notice urged relevant departments across the country to actively encourage the target population to voluntarily receive vaccinations, with special emphasis on increasing the vaccination rate among the elderly.
In March, China approved its first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine developed by CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Ltd, correcting the absence of this new vaccine technology for public use. The vaccine was initially put into use in May.
Community hospitals in Shanghai have introduced new COVID-19 vaccines covering Omicron variants in late May, including the protein subunit vaccine and the mRNA vaccine, which are available for people aged above 18.