China’s road to 1 billion vaccine doses: eggs, water bottles, free rides.

By Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien

After a slow start, China’s Covid-19 vaccination drive is in full swing as the authorities chase the ambitious target of fully vaccinating 40 percent of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people by the end of this month.

China has administered more than 945 million vaccine doses, more than a third of the global total, according to the New York Times vaccine tracker. With about 17 million shots injected every day this month, China is on pace to surpass a billion shots in the coming days.

To get its vaccine drive going, China pulled out its playbook for pandemic success: a top-down approach that relies on a mix of high-tech tools and old-fashioned, grass-roots mobilization — with some inducements thrown in.

Compared with the United States, where local officials have sought to boost inoculations by offering lures such as million-dollar lottery prizes and free weed, the incentives in China have been humbler. In Shanghai, one man received a bottle of water. In Anhui Province, officials have been handing out free eggs. A woman in Beijing got the equivalent of about $7 in cash.

Uptake has surged. In mid-March, China had administered only about 65 million doses. In April, it was giving only 4.8 million doses per day. Many Chinese had been hesitant to get the shots, in part because of past scandals involving Chinese-made vaccines and also because the virus has been largely tamed in China. Only domestically produced vaccines are being offered in the country.

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