Concern is mounting that China’s COVID-19 vaccines are less effective raising questions about countries using Chinese vaccines and their inoculation drive, according to a report from Bloomberg.
While vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna and even Russia’s Sputnik have delivered protection rates of more than 90 per cent, the Chinese vaccines have generally reported much lower efficacy results.
Presently, Sinovac’s vaccine used in Indonesia and Brazil was reported to be just just above 50 per cent effective. This figure barely meets the minimum protection required for COVID-19 vaccines by leading global drug regulators. Other Chinese vaccines have reported efficacy rates of between 66 per cent and 79 per cent.
What’s worse is that, in the case of Sinovac, its CEO has been caught bribing China’s own vaccine regulator for years. The CEO was never punished but the deputy director of the China Food and Drug Administration’s drug-testing center was jailed instead (‘Sinovac CEO caught for bribing Chinese regulator remains unscathed and continues to oversee COVID-19 vaccine development‘). The incident raises questions with regard to ethics of Chinese firms producing vaccines.
With regard to Sinovac, Singapore has already purchased and received a shipment of Sinovac’s vaccines but has yet to approve it.
Chinese CDC’s head laments over low efficacy of their vaccines
In any case, anxiety over Chinese vaccines spilled into the open at the weekend when Dr Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a forum that something needs to be done to address the low protection rate of the Chinese vaccines, according to local news media.
The rare admission by a senior official went viral on social media before China’s censors swung into action, taking down posts and media reports on Gao’s comments.
Then, Gao backtracked and went public on state-controlled Global Times newspaper on Sunday (11 Apr) saying that his remarks were misinterpreted and were meant only to suggest ways to improve the efficacy of vaccines.
He suggested that following up inoculations with additional booster shots and mixing different types of vaccines could help tackle the effectiveness issue, according to the Global Times.
The concerns put a question mark over many developing countries like Turkey and Indonesia using the Chinese developed vaccines.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that China is also developing its own vaccines based on the new mRNA technology used by Pfizer and Moderna. The Chinese made mRNA vaccines are expected to be ready by the end of this year, the report said.