Reuters reported last Sat (20 Mar) that a hospital worker in the city of Xian in Shaanxi province, fell sick with COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated with 2 shots of the Chinese coronavirus vaccine. It was China’s first locally transmitted coronavirus case since February.
The patient, identified by her surname Liu, had been working in the quarantine area of a hospital in Xian since early this month (4 Mar). She was mainly responsible for collecting samples of quarantined people for coronavirus testing. She had already received two shots of a vaccine between end-January and early February, according to a Chinese state media report.
Liu was said to have been infected after being accidentally exposed while in the hospital’s quarantine area. Thirty-three other staff have also been isolated and are currently under observation.
Dr Zeng Guang, former chief epidemiologist of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the media that the protection rate of the vaccine is “not 100%”, and that it is “relatively safe” rather than “absolutely safe”.
“The efficacy rate of domestic vaccines in preventing severe cases in China is more than 90%, and the overall protection rate is more than 70%,” Zeng said, adding that coronavirus treatment hospitals are high-risk areas where vaccinated medical staff cannot rule out the possibility of infection.
He assured the public asking them not to doubt the efficacy of the local vaccines produced by China.
China currently has four locally produced COVID-19 vaccines for public use:
- Sinovac Biotech
- CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO)
- Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of Sinopharm
A fifth vaccine, developed by the Institute of Microbiology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IMCAS), was said to have also been approved for emergency use in China last week (15 Mar).
In any case, the Chinese state media did not specify which vaccine patient Liu had received.
PM Lee has no doubt Chinese capable of making good vaccines
Meanwhile, in an interview with BBC which was broadcast on 14 Mar earlier, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was asked if Singapore was under pressure to use a Chinese-made vaccine.
PM Lee replied, “We are in the process of evaluating the vaccine. If it passes muster in terms of safety and effectiveness, we will use it.”
He was referring to China’s Sinovac vaccine which Singapore had received the first shipment last month. It has yet to be approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for use in Singapore. Two other vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, has already been approved for use here.
PM Lee also added, “I do not think there is any basis for people to say, a vaccine comes from China, it is no good, or conversely, a vaccine comes from China, it must be good because I am a Chinaman and it matches my DNA. Vaccines are vaccines.”
PM Lee also noted that China has capable scientists, biomedical researchers and vaccine researchers, adding that he had no doubt they were capable of making good vaccines.
“Vaccines do not carry a nationality,” he said.