Safety, effectiveness of China’s COVID-19 vaccines ‘widely recognized’

Zhuang Pinghui, South China Morning Post

Posted at Oct 27 2021 05:40 AM

Two million doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccines arrive in the country on August 12. Photo courtesy of NTC COVID-19/file
Two million doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccines arrive in the country on August 12. Photo courtesy of NTC COVID-19/file

China has defended the effectiveness of its Covid-19 vaccines, distributed mostly in less wealthy countries, saying they have made a positive contribution to building a protective barrier against the pandemic.

Zhou Liujun, deputy director of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, said 1.5 billion doses of Chinese vaccines had been provided to 106 countries and four international organisations, including more than 80 million doses to neighbouring countries. Their safety and effectiveness had been recognised, he said.

“Now there is a voice in the international arena that questions the safety and effectiveness of the Chinese vaccines. It can be said that not only do many heads of state attach great importance to Chinese vaccines and welcome them, but in practice the safety and effectiveness of the Chinese vaccines have been widely recognised,” he told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday morning.

One vaccine by Sinopharm and another by Beijing’s Sinovac were approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use in May and June, “which is an endorsement given by an international, authoritative organisation from a professional point of view,” Zhou said.

“There is international confidence in the Chinese vaccines. Scientific research and clinical data from various countries also provide strong support.”

The two vaccines, which both use traditional technology to chemically kill the whole virus, were approved by the WHO for emergency use after preliminary human trials found the Sinovac jab was 51 per cent and Sinopharm 79 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 disease.

The two vaccines have accounted for almost half the vaccines distributed globally but their effectiveness has come under scrutiny in the face of the more transmissible Delta variant. Some countries – including Seychelles, United Arab Emirates and Indonesia – which relied heavily on the Chinese jabs suffered further waves of infection.

Real world effectiveness studies showed the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines were still effective in preventing serious illness and death, but gave limited protection to the elderly.

Earlier this month a panel of vaccination strategy experts with the WHO recommended that people over 60 who were vaccinated with Sinovac or Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines should receive a third dose of the same or another vaccine to increase protection. Some countries, such as UAE and Brazil, have offered viral vector or mRNA vaccines as booster shots.

China had also donated large quantities of masks, protection suits, ventilators and oxygen cylinders to more than 150 countries and 13 international organisations, in stark contrast to the “indifference of some major countries towards Covid-19 situation in other countries”, Zhou said.

“It is our selfless assistance that also contrasts with the aloofness of some major countries towards the epidemic in other countries, and that has earned us extra credit [among nations],” Zhou said, without elaborating.

The “timely and efficient assistance” to China’s neighbours had played an important role in the timely control of the epidemic in those countries and made a due contribution to the prevention and control of the epidemic in China, he said.

Zhou also said China had donated vaccines to more than 50 countries and sent medical teams to 17 nations.


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