China is claiming the dubious honor of the first nation to roll out an experimental coronavirus vaccine for public use, saying it began inoculating high-risk groups in late July.
For those keeping score, that would put Beijing’s civilian rollout three weeks earlier than Russia’s, with neither vaccine having yet passed standard clinical trials. Beijing health officials said Saturday they began dosing some medical workers and state-owned enterprise employees with an experimental covid-19 vaccine in late July under “urgent use” protocols.
Officials around the world have been debating how far they should suspend ordinary drug-development protocols to get covid-19 vaccines and treatments to market. Many governments declared early on that they would not cut corners in developing a vaccine, but they are proving amenable in practice to corner-cutting as the pandemic’s human and economic tolls mount.
The Beijing announcement followed a diplomatic controversy last week, in which Papua New Guinea said it had turned back a group of Chinese miners who had received an experimental coronavirus vaccine.