China has been administering an experimental coronavirus vaccine since July to people engaged in "high risk" professions among whom include frontline medical professionals and border inspectors, a senior official from the National Health Commission stated over the weekend. Zheng Zhongwei, Director of the Science and Technology Development Center of the National Health Commission, in a statement during an interview on Saturday with a Chinese state media broadcaster said, the COVID-19 vaccine had been approved for use on July 22.

Speaking on the CCTV-2 program 'Dialogue', Zheng told that the people working in jobs that included a high risk of exposure to the virus such as frontline medical personnel, epidemic prevention personnel, medical staff at fever clinics, and customs and border personnel have been receiving the vaccine. Developed by Sinopharm's China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG), the vaccine's phase 3 clinical trials were conducted in the UAE, Peru, Morocco, and Argentina.

Zheng said, "There are clear provisions in Article 20 of our country's vaccine law. When a major public health incident occurs, the National Health Commission submits an application for emergency use of vaccines, and the State Food and Drug Administration organizes experts to evaluate and agree to the NHC for emergency use of vaccines within a certain scale and within a certain limited time,".

Leading the vaccine research and development team of the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, Zheng stated that the next phase of the delivery of the vaccine could be implemented in order to put a stop to virus outbreaks in autumn and winter to "establish an immunity barrier."

Speaking further on the next phase of the vaccine, Zheng said, "Once we build up an immune barrier for medical staff, personnel involved in basic operation of the city, such as those in the farmers market, transportation, and in some service industries, then the entire city's operation has a stable guarantee."

This isn't the first occasion the Chinese government has approved an experimental vaccine as it gave the nod for the use of a different vaccine candidate for the country's military in June. Jointly developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, which is a part of the Chinese government's Academy of Military Medical Sciences, and vaccine company CanSino Biologics, that vaccine was given a "military specially-needed drug approval" in June by the country's central military commission. 

According to the China Human Vaccine Industry Report 2018-2022, the world's largest producer and consumer of vaccines, China can supply more than 1 billion doses of a vaccine annually from 40 manufacturers across the country. In comparison to any other nation in the world, China at present has more coronavirus vaccine candidates in human trials.