Even as countries race against time to vaccinate their population against Covid-19, questions are being raised on the quality of the vaccines produced by Chinese companies. As the Sinopharm vaccine proved ineffective in preventing infection, two nations The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are providing a third booster shot to their citizens who had already received the prescribed two doses of the Chinese vaccine against the Chinese virus.
On Tuesday, the UAF govt announced that it will offer the additional third dose to people who had already received two doses of Sinopharm vaccine more than six months ago. A tweet posted by UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday said, “An additional supportive dose of Sinopharm is now available to people who have received the vaccine previously and who have now completed more than six months since the second dose.”
Although daily infections have come from its peak in January, UAE is still not out of Covid-19 crisis, and amid this, the decision to administer the booster shot raises doubt on the efficacy of two doses of the vaccine.
Peng Xiao, the chief executive of G42, the company that’s making the Sinopharm shot locally in the UAE, said that the company is “testing if a third shot can help to protect against the new mutations that we see around us.”
UAE had relied heavily on the vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) in its vaccination program, with capital Abu Dhabi administering only this vaccine to residents although other vaccines were also available, a policy which was changed later. In December last year, UAE had claimed that interim analysis has shown that Sinopharm vaccine is 86%, more than 79% effectiveness claimed by China in the same month. The one reason for high reliance on Sinopharm is the fact that the vaccine is being produced locally in UAE.
Similarly, the National Medical Taskforce for Combatting the Coronavirus in Bahrain has announced that a third booster dose of Sinopharm will be given to those who had received the Chinese vaccine at least six months ago. At present the booster dose is available for first responders, citizens and residents above the age of 50, and those suffering from obesity, low immunity, or other underlying health conditions. It will be available for general citizens at a later date.
Neither UAE nor Bahrain has given the reason of administering booster dose for Sinopharm only, while they are using other vaccines like those made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna etc alsol. It is noteworthy that Bahrain has also decided to vaccinate its population in the 12 to 17 years age group using two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
While UAE and Bahrain have decided on third dose of Sinopharm, questions are being raised on the vaccine over its efficacy in Seychelles, where Covid-19 is surging despite high vaccination rate. Around 71% population have received at least one dose, and around 62% have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine in Seychelles, making it the most vaccinated country at present. Despite this, there has been a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country in the recent weeks. 57% population had received the Sinopharm vaccine, while the rest 43% had received the AstraZeneva jab.
According the health ministry in the country, around 37% of the people who tested positive for Covid-19 have already been vaccinated fully. Reports indicate that majority of the infected people had got the Sinopharm vaccine, raising doubts about its effectiveness.
Sinofarm vaccine is s produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG). It was approved for emergency use by the WHO in March this year, and it is being used by 42 countries across the world.