Updated COVID vaccines seen as priority

An elderly man receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot in Zhengzhou, Henan province, on Oct 14, 2022. (PHOTO / VCG)

Developing updated COVID-19 vaccines and novel drugs, and strengthening disease monitoring and early precaution systems are among the priorities for China's virus control work this year, according to two key reports submitted to the national legislature for deliberation on Sunday.

The Government Work Report said that through constant optimization of COVID-19 policies, China has secured a decisive victory against the disease.

But the epidemic is not yet over. "We must keep working to consolidate our achievements in both COVID-19 response and economic and social development," the report said.

"COVID-19 vaccines should be updated and new drugs should be developed," it said.

Zhu Tao, chief scientist for domestic drugmaker CanSino Biologics and a national political adviser, said the company is testing a bivalent, inhaled COVID-19 dose, as well as a new vaccine based on the novel messenger RNA technology that has shown good protection in trials against different key variants.

In addition to researching more effective vaccines to fend off the disease, Zhu said it is important to emphasize standard manufacturing and risk control, and improve the efficiency of evaluation procedures.

This year, he plans to submit a proposal on optimizing the emergency-use authorization mechanism to better prepare for public health emergencies.

A draft report prepared by the National Development and Reform Commission and submitted to the National People's Congress on Sunday highlights beefing up epidemic monitoring and early precaution capability, and improving epidemic reporting systems in outlining tasks for this year's disease control work.

"Efforts should be enhanced in analyzing and determining the epidemic trajectory for summer, autumn and winter seasons, making accurate and timely warnings and taking necessary emergency measures," the report said.