In a rare acknowledgement, the top Chinese official for disease control said that the current vaccines developed in the country don’t offer a high enough protection rate for the Coronavirus and that China is considering mixing different vaccines in order to boost effectiveness.
“We will solve the issue that current vaccines don’t have very high protection rates,” Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a conference in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Saturday.
“It’s now under consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process,” Gao added. He outlined a couple of options in order to solve the vaccine efficacy issue: one is to increase the number of doses or to adjust the dosage or the interval between shots; the other is to mix vaccines developed from different technologies.
However, as Gao’s comments gained attention on social media and headlines, Gao quickly disavowed his comments, seemingly clarifying that he was speaking about the effectiveness rates for “vaccines in the world, not particularly for China.” However, Gao did not explicitly make clear as to which particular vaccines he was referring to.
The head of China CDC admitted that Chinese Covid vaccines have low protection rates and China is considering alternative administration methods, such as changing doses. pic.twitter.com/F2dMAamL2p— Yanzhong Huang (@YanzhongHuang) April 10, 2021
“The protection rates of all vaccines in the world are sometimes high, and sometimes low. How to improve their efficacy is a question that needs to be considered by scientists around the world,” Gao said in an interview with the Chinese state-owned publication The Global Times.
China currently has five vaccines approved for use in its mass vaccination campaign, three inactivated-virus vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm, a one-shot vaccine from CanSino, and the last from Gao’s team in partnership with Anhui Zhifei Longcom.
The effectiveness of these Chinese vaccines range from just over 50% to 79%, according to various International trials and the companies themselves.
The majority of Chinese vaccines are made by Sinovac, a private company, and Sinopharm, a state-owned firm. These vaccines have also been distributed to several dozen countries around the world including Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil, Pakistan and Turkey.
Back in January, Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine was found to be only 50.4% effective in Brazilian clinical trials, with the efficacy rate of the vaccine ranging from around 50% to over 83%.
Liu Peicheng, a Sinovac spokesman, acknowledges that varying levels of effectiveness have been found in different trials around the world but said that can be due to the age of people in a study, the strain of the virus, or other factors. China has so far not approved any foreign vaccine for use in mainland China.
The Sinovac spokesman, Liu, said that studies find protection “may be better” if the time period between vaccination doses is longer than the current 14 days but gave no indication that there might be a change made in the standard practice.