Chinese embassies in at least 50 countries have, as of Wednesday, issued notices and begun helping citizens abroad get inoculated with Chinese or foreign COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible, after China announced in early March to launch "spring sprout" program to assist and secure vaccination for Chinese citizens overseas.
The program so far has achieved a major progress in Namibia as all Chinese citizens of around 1,800 covering employees at Chinese-funded companies, Hong Kong and Taiwan compatriots in the country have completed their first dose as of Wednesday, the Global Times learned from the Chinese embassy in Namibia on Wednesday. They showed no adverse effect.
The program is just like a “bullet-proof vest” which could wipe out the anxiety of Chinese nationals to fight the pandemic, said Chinese ambassador to Namibia Zhang Yiming to the Global Times.
Namibia was among the first group of countries which received Chinese COVID-19 vaccines and also the first to put it into use since March 19.
“It was quite hard for China-made vaccine to enter the country since Namibia has been adopting a Western standard in drug supervision. And China-made vaccine haven’t been approved by WHO for emergency use,” said Liu Mingzhe, an economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese embassy in Namibia.
However, Zhang played an indispensable role in fighting for opportunities for the approval of emergency use of the Chinese vaccine in the country, Liu added.
“The arrival of Chinese vaccines can be seen as a milestone for Namibia to fight the pandemic and will always be remembered by our people,” Namibian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said.
The "spring sprout" program was launched on March 26 in Namibia, which made the country the first in Southern Africa to implement a vaccination program.
The program has also expanded continuously since it was launched in March. In addition to the Chinese embassy in Lebanon which issued the notice on Wednesday, other countries now include Ireland, Croatia, Spain, Egypt, Germany, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Maldives, Angola and Congo, among others.
In the notice issued by the Chinese embassy in Lebanon, Chinese citizens in the country who are in possession of both a Chinese passport and a resident permit will be able to sign up for the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine, with two doses for each citizen over 18 years old. The deadline for registration is April 13.
According to the report on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s WeChat account on Friday, over 200,000 Chinese citizens abroad have been given the COVID-19 vaccine since the Chinese government announced its "spring sprout" vaccine program on March 7.
Chinese embassies in various countries have been making efforts to provide China-made COVID-19 vaccines to citizens abroad since March.
However, according to several notices from Chinese embassies in countries including Germany, Croatia, and Ireland, Chinese citizens in some European countries have not been able to receive China’s COVID-19 vaccine, since it is still seeking approval from European Medicines Agency to be put into use.
According to the notices, the embassies have made sure that Chinese nationals are included in the local vaccination systems in the host countries.
In some countries that have not taken part in the implementation of the "spring sprout" vaccine program, or approved any use of China-made vaccine, such as the UK and US, Chinese nationals are still included in those countries’ national vaccination drives.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, over 60 countries had included Chinese nationals in their vaccination lists by March 11,, with or without the embassies notice on the "spring sprout" vaccine program.
One Chinese student who studies at Moscow State University in Russia, surnamed Yang, told the Global Times earlier that he had received two doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve, since he “assumed that it might take a while before China-made COVID-19 vaccines get approval in Russia.”
“I had serious side effects the day after my first injection,” Yang added, “but I feel much safer after finishing the vaccination.”