Coronavirus: China’s Sinovac vaccine faces driver shortage, says distributor

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A Chinese distributor of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine said on Thursday it is facing a shortage of drivers, as the worst wave of new infections in almost a year adds to the urgency of China’s inoculation drive.

Jointown Pharmaceutical Group, which started distributing a vaccine made by the Sinovac company this month, has hired 120 drivers to handle shipments but needs 72 more to ease a bottleneck while ensuring normal operations of other businesses, its vice chairman, Liu Zhaonian, told a news conference.

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Liu did not elaborate on the reason for the shortage of drivers but said it was expecting to fill the vacancies by Monday.

China reported 144 new infections as of Wednesday, the highest number of daily infections since March 1, 2020. The tally remains a fraction of what it saw during the height of the outbreak in January-February 2020, however.

Authorities are stepping up a vaccination drive with the goal of vaccinating priority groups before the travel-heavy Lunar New Year holiday next month.

China has used three vaccines including the Sinovac shot in an emergency programme that began in July but has only formally approved one, from Sinopharm, for the general public. A fourth is only being used by the military.

Jointown said it has shipped Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine to more than 10 provinces since January 2.

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