China will promote vaccine development, new drugs

China will promote vaccine development, new drugs

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will prevent and control health outbreaks in a more scientific, precise and efficient way, and will upgrade vaccines and develop new drugs to ensure adequate supplies for the public, Premier Li Keqiang said on Sunday.

After abruptly abandoning the zero-covid policy in early December, the country grappled with a surge in COVID-19 cases after the virus spread across its 1.4 billion population. The government has given top priority to vaccinating its most vulnerable, including the elderly.

Last month, China’s top leaders declared a “major victory” over COVID, claiming the world’s lowest death rate, although experts questioned that data.

In a government work report at the opening of China’s annual parliament session, Li said the country would focus on epidemic control and treatment for the elderly, children and groups with underlying diseases.

China’s state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said in a separate report that the world’s second-largest economy will also continue to increase vaccination rates among the elderly, and promote the expansion and upgrade of critical care resources.

Beijing has been largely immune to Western vaccines and treatments, relying on locally manufactured shots. During last year’s parliament session, the government said the country would accelerate research and development of vaccines and drugs.

On Sunday, the NDRC also said that China will make unremitting efforts to ensure the production, distribution and supply of basic medical supplies.

Major drug store chains and internet platforms will play a major role in increasing drug distribution and supply efficiency, it said.

(Reporting by Ethan Wang and Bernard Orr; Editing by William Mallard and Tom Hogue)

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