A Chinese vaccine expert kicked up a controversy after suggesting on social media that a Covid-19 vaccine that has been rolled out in China is ‘the most unsafe in the world’ and has ‘as many 73 side-effects’. Dr Tao Lina from Shanghai stated the shortcomings of the vaccine developed by Beijing’s state-run drugmaker Sinopharm to his followers on social media on Tuesday. However, not long after media reported the news, the vaccine expert pulled down his post from Weibo, the Twitter-like microblogging site in China, giving a rather bizarre justification.
The vaccine expert from China takes a U-turn, says had written in an ‘extremely sarcastic’ tone
The medical worker, on Thursday, blatantly denied of having criticised the vaccine and said that his words were ‘twisted’ and ‘exploited’ by foreign media outlets. He claimed that his post was written in an ‘extremely sarcastic’ tone, which was distorted and presented by media.
As outlandish as it could sound, Tao said that he had written ‘satirically’ that the user guide, which was meant to serve as a disclaimer, inadvertently makes the vaccine look like the most unsafe vaccine in the world and may be used by hostile parties as a tool to question its safety.
Speaking to Global Times, Tao said on Thursday: “I have never said that inactivated vaccines lacked safety and efficacy. Instead, I frequently emphasized that inactivated vaccines produced by China are safe in multiple articles to dismiss public concerns over vaccinations.”
Social media post suggests that he indeed called the COVID-19 vaccine of China most unsafe in the world
However, much to the dismay of the Chinese medical worker, a screeshot of his post showed clearly that he had mentioned that none of the vaccines in the world ‘had more side effects’ than the two-dose COVID-19 regimen from Sinopharm and described its potential adverse impact as “unprecedented”.
He stated that after he read the manual, “I took in a long cold breath, and counted the conditions listed in the ‘adverse reactions’ column.” He found that there were 73 local/systemic adverse reactions associated with the vaccine.
Some of the listed side effects were pain around the injection area, headache, high blood pressure, the loss of vision and taste, and urinary incontinence.
Probably scared of the repercussions he may have to face in the hands of the autocratic Chinese authorities, Tao took a U-turn and went on to insist that the Chinese treatment was “very safe” and apologised to his fellow countrymen for his ‘imprudent’ choice of words. He claimed he had even received the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine and would get his second dose on Saturday.
China and its history of penalising those of have spoken against the authorities over their handling of the pandemic
Well, Tao’s trepidation is somewhat justified. History has it that the tyrannical government of China has always stifled dissenting voices. Who so ever has dared to speak against China over their handling of the pandemic, has either gone mysteriously missing or has been indicted by the Chinese authorities. In March 2020, it was reported how Ai Fen, director of the emergency at Wuhan Central hospital, had disappeared after criticizing Chinese authorities over their handling of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. She was the first person to raise the alarm over the virus. Her whereabouts remained unknown.
Soon afterwards, Chinese billionaire Ren Zhiqiang had to take the brunt of the Chinese government for criticising Xi Jinping over his bungled handling of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. Ren Zhiqiang too went missing after he wrote a searing article criticising the Chinese government. Then in April 2020, the retired real-estate tycoon has been placed under investigation over corruption charges by the Communist Party of China.
Similarly, a Chinese journalist, Zhang Zhan, who was under detention since May for reporting on the Wuhan virus outbreak had been formally indicted on charges of spreading false information on November 17, 2020.
Since the time the scourge of coronavirus swept the world, China has now found itself at the receiving end of the criticism and blamed for its lackadaisical approach to tame the virus which clearly created conditions for the global pandemic. China has also been accused by a large number of countries of lowballing by underreporting the actual number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus outbreak which is believed to have started from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.