The China Shipowners’ Association has written to transport and health authorities in Beijing to make a recently approved local single-shot Covid-19 vaccine available for seafarers at 11 major ports across the People’s Republic.

Chinese seafarers have thus far been administered double-dose Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines, but they will soon be able to get the CanSinoBIO single-shot injection, making crew deployment easier.

The vaccine, developed by CanSino Biologics and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, uses a modified adenovirus to induce neutralising antibodies against the Covid-19 virus.

Given the long periods at sea between port calls, international shipping has been seeking one-dose Covid-19 solutions. To this end, InterManager, the association for third party managers,

revealed earlier this month it has secured an in-principle order with Johnson & Johnson for 1m one-shot Covid-19 vaccine doses. However, in order to place and receive the $22m order,

InterManager needs to work with a recognised governmental body, in line with current international law, something it is still trying to finalise.

Chinese seafarers being far more down the vaccination track than their peers in places such as India and the Philippines has seen crewing dynamics change greatly in recent months.

In some segments such as tankers, the Chinese crew wage bill is already 5% more expensive than all major nationalities including Indians and East Europeans.

With recent bans on flights from India and Philippines, the demand for vaccinated Chinese seafarers has leapt.

China is the world’s top source of merchant seafarers, followed by the Philippines and India, albeit that traditionally a large proportion of Chinese seagoing staff focuses on working for local companies.

“With China already recognising seafarers as key workers and the clear availability of Covid-19 vaccinations, it is likely to provide another edge to Chinese seafarers as countries and airlines start to demand proof of vaccination as a prerequisite for travel approvals,” commented Praveen Shukla, crewing director at Wallem Group.

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