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China 'has been vaccinating key workers since July'

Sky News logo Sky News 24/08/2020

A doctor is holding a coronavirus vaccine. The concept of vaccination, medicine, healthcare. A doctor is holding a coronavirus vaccine. The concept of vaccination, medicine, healthcare. China has been giving experimental coronavirus vaccines to key workers since July, a government official has said.

Some medical workers, border officials and those who work at food markets have been offered vaccines in the hope of boosting immunity to high-risk groups, Zheng Zhongwei, of China's National Health Commission reportedly told state media.

Its "emergency" use was approved by Beijing last month and was rolled out on 22 July, she added.

TOPSHOT - This photo taken on August 15, 2020 shows people watching a performance as they cool off in a swimming pool in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images) TOPSHOT - This photo taken on August 15, 2020 shows people watching a performance as they cool off in a swimming pool in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

There are currently 170 separate efforts to create a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) - but none have yet been approved.

Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said yesterday it is unlikely that a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available before winter 2021.

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More on coronavirus:

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What you can and can't do as rules change (Mirror)

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Video: National Institute for Health Protection launched to ‘fight health threats’ (PA Media)

The "emergency" vaccine being used by the Chinese government appears to be the country's first - outside of clinical trials.

Gallery: Coronavirus outbreak around the world (Photo Services)

Ms Zheng told state media CCTV on Saturday: "We've drawn up a series of plan packages, medical consent forms, side effect monitoring plans, rescuing plans, compensation plans, to make sure the emergency use is well regulated and monitored."

She also said the vaccine programme could be "scaled up" to prevent outbreaks in autumn and winter.

But the rest of the world has been largely sceptical about China's vaccine claims.

WUHAN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) The residents wear masks while walking through the entrance during Wuhan Beer Festival on August 21, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei, China. As there have been no recorded cases of community transmission in Wuhan since May, life for residents is returning to normal. (Photo by Getty Images) © 2020 Getty Images WUHAN, CHINA - AUGUST 13: (CHINA OUT) The residents wear masks while walking through the entrance during Wuhan Beer Festival on August 21, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei, China. As there have been no recorded cases of community transmission in Wuhan since May, life for residents is returning to normal. (Photo by Getty Images)

Papua New Guinea border officials recently refused entry to a group of Chinese nationals because they had participated in vaccine trials, The Australian reported.

In the US, President Donald Trump is trying to fast-track the approval of the Oxford University vaccine for use before the election in November.

He is looking to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorise emergency use in October - a month before the vote, according to the Financial Times.

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Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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