After countries like Bahrain, UAE saw a Covid-19 surge after using China-made Covid vaccines, countries like Mongolia, Seychelles that relied on Chinese Covid-19 vaccines are also seeing a surge in infections, according to a report in New York Times (NYT).
Countries such as Mongolia and Seychelles had put faith in the easily accessible China-made vaccines to roll out their ambitious vaccination programmes. However, months later, instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.
The recent studies from these countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, particularly the new variants, the NYT report said.
China had kicked off its vaccine diplomacy campaign last year with much fanfare and had pledged to provide “safe and effective” vaccines. Though their efficacy data was questioned, transmission, many countries had bought the Chinese-made vaccines.
Countries see a massive surge, despite inoculating their population with Chinese vaccines
It seems like these countries are now battling a massive surge in infections even as they have inoculated a large number of their population with the Chinese vaccines. According to Our World in Data, in Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, about 50 to 68% of the populations have been fully inoculated with Chinese vaccines, outpacing the United States.
However, these countries now feature among the top 10 countries with the worst Covid-19 outbreaks.
“If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern. The Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this,” Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, told the leading US daily.
Seychelles, the small island country in the southern Indian Ocean, which relied mostly on Sinopharm, has reported more than 716 Covid-19 cases per million. Meanwhile, China’s neighbour Mongolia, which too accepted the Chinese aid, quickly rolled out an inoculation program and eased restrictions, vaccinating 52 per cent of its population. However, it has recorded 2,400 new infections on Sunday, a quadrupling from a month before.
China had exported its vaccines to nearly 90 nations, and people in these countries are now reluctant to get Chinese-made vaccines. Vaccine hesitancy has also become a major concern for those countries that had bought Chinese vaccines earlier.
Bahrain, UAE looking to buy booster shots even after giving Chinese vaccines
Earlier, we had reported how Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the first two countries to purchase the Sinopharm shot, even before late-stage clinical trial data was released, are facing a surge in the Covid-19 cases after jabbing their population with the Chinese vaccines. As a result, these countries are now looking to buy additional booster shots of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to keep their population from further exposure.
Bahrain, which has seen a sudden resurgence of Covid-19 despite high levels of immunisation with a Chinese-made vaccine, has started giving booster shots to its vulnerable citizens using Pfizer-BioNTech doses. Last year, Bahrain was one of the first countries to buy China’s Sinopharm vaccine, even though serious doubts were raised on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
Just as Bahrain, and Seychelles, the United Arab Emirates has also said that it already began administering a third booster shot of Sinopharm to some residents who failed to develop antibodies with the first two. In fact, Sinopharm had carried out a sophisticated trial in UAE and based on the UAE-led clinical trials in the Middle East, Sinopharm had also signed contracts to sell 175 million doses to countries like Egypt, Hungary, and Argentina while donating another 18 million to other small countries.
China says there is no link to outbreaks and its vaccines
As questions are being raised against the efficacy of Sinopharm, China’s foreign ministry has claimed it did not see a link between the recent outbreaks and its vaccines. It cited the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying that vaccination rates in certain countries had not reached sufficient levels to prevent outbreaks and that countries needed to continue to enforce controls.
“Relevant reports and data also show that many countries that use Chinese-made vaccines have expressed that they are safe and reliable and have played a good role in their epidemic prevention efforts,” the ministry said.
The Communist Party of China has used two Chinese-made vaccines – Sinopharm and Sinovac as the critical tools of Beijing’s international diplomacy, especially in developing nations that have found it tough to secure sufficient doses of US and European-made vaccines. Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. have already received emergency approval from the World Health Organization.
While the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna vaccines and Indian-made vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin have efficacy rates of more than 90%, China’s Sinopharm vaccine has an efficacy rate of 78.%, and the Sinovac vaccine has an efficacy rate of 51%.