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Chinese city to offer COVID-19 vaccine candidate as emergency use expands


BEIJING (Reuters) - A city in China's Zhejiang province will offer experimental coronavirus vaccines to its residents, as China broadens an emergency use programme to people in non-priority groups.

Residents aged between 18 and 59 in the city of Shaoxing, who are not in priority groups, can apply online for inoculation, the city's health commission said on Tuesday on its WeChat account. It did not name the vaccine, say when inoculation would start or how many doses would be offered.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already taken experimental COVID-19 vaccines in China since it launched its emergency use programme in July aimed at essential workers and other limited groups of people at higher risk of infection. The use of shots that are still under study has raised safety concern among experts.

Last week, Zhejiang became the first Chinese province to offer the voluntary inoculation to non-priority residents via the emergency use programme, without specifying how many people will be vaccinated.

Shaoxing residents that choose to be inoculated will need to give reasons for wanting the vaccine on their applications and will be charged 400 yuan ($60) for two doses, with an additional inoculation fee of 28 yuan per dose, the city said.

It was not immediately clear whether the city will screen applicants based on these reasons, or whether the costs could be subsidised. Shaoxing's health commission did not respond to requests for comment.

($1 = 6.6678 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Tony Munroe; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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