China’s fight against the COVID-19 epidemic has entered the stage that stresses striking a balance between disease control and social and economic development, Li Bin, vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said on Saturday.

He said global COVID-19 counts remain high and new mutations are emerging, threatening to trigger more sporadic infections and local outbreaks in China.

Li said China will combine regular disease containment measures with emergency response in virus-hit regions, and make its virus control work more precise, efficient and scientific.

He spoke at the 2022 National Vaccines and Health Conference held in Beijing. The conference will last for a week.

Li added that the mainland has administered over 3.4 billion COVID-19 vaccines and fully vaccinated 89 percent of its total population.

“More systematic research is needed on the immunogenicity and immunity persistence of vaccines and their protection effects in the long term. Close attention should also be paid to study emerging variants’ effects on existing doses, and preparedness and R&D should be launched to create variant-specific vaccines,” he said.

In the meantime, he called for sustaining routine vaccination campaigns, and ensuring that the vaccination rate of children eligible for the national immunization program remains above 90 percent.

Shen Hongbin, deputy head of the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control and director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that China has made significant progress in vaccination drives in recent years.

Currently, there are about 80,000 routine vaccination stations. During the peak of COVID-19 vaccination, about 216,000 new vaccination facilities were added, leading to a record number of doses delivered in one day at 25 million.

The information system for vaccination and monitoring mechanism for adverse effects have also been established and improved in recent years, he added.

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