China to provide Covid-19 vaccines free of charge, says government official

Over 4 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses from China's CNBG administered in emergency use

In a group of 94 patients, levels of these antibodies fell by an average of 53% during the six-month study period after their sickness peaked.

The new study included 1,733 Covid-19 patients, with a median age of 57, who were discharged from Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan between January 7 and May 29 a year ago.

"Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on patients' health", said lead author Bin Cao, of the National Center for Respiratory Medicine.

After the vaccines are approved and available to the general public, they will be offered free to the Chinese people, who can receive inoculation on a voluntary, informed basis, said Li Tao, deputy director of the National Health care Security Administration, at a press conference.

Among those who continued to experience symptoms, 63 per cent of patients had experienced persistent fatigue or muscle weakness, while 26 per cent had experienced difficulty sleeping and 23 per cent reported depression or anxiety.

The researchers analyzed levels of neutralizing antibodies - immune proteins that the body normally makes in response to viruses that can ward off repeat illness.

Of the 390 patients who underwent additional testing, 349 completed the lung function test. More than half of people who required ventilation had a reduced flow of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream, while about a quarter of others had that problem.

Patients with more severe disease performed worse in the six-minute walking test (which measures the distance covered in six minutes), with 29% of those at severity scale 5-6 walking less than the lower limit of the normal range, compared with 24% for those at scale 3, and 22% for scale 4.

In addition to causing pneumonia, the virus is known to affect the kidneys, heart, blood vessels and other tissues.

Tests revealed that 13% (107/822) of patients whose kidney function was normal while in hospital had reduced kidney function in follow-up.

Earlier this year, Wuhan and Hubei authorities found themselves in hot water over the way they recorded COVID-19 infections and mortality, with some speculating they had missed or failed to report numerous early infections. However, while it seemed that the virus had temporarily been quashed by late-April, antibody tests now show that the outbreak was continuing to silently linger around this time.

They add that further work is also needed to compare differences in outcomes between inpatients and outpatients, as patients with mild Covid-19 symptoms who stayed in temporary Fangcang shelter hospitals were not included in the study. "The study by Huang and colleagues in The Lancet is therefore relevant and timely".

They said longer term multidisciplinary research being conducted in the United States and Britain would help improve understanding and help develop therapies to "mitigate the long-term consequences of COVID-19 on multiple organs and tissues". On January 7, the World Health Organization calls the surging cases and new variants "alarming. and a tipping-point in the course of the pandemic". The expenses for the vaccination will be borne by the basic medical insurance fund and government, she said. It was a seroprevalence study, which involves detecting antibodies in study subjects.



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