Nations relying on Chinese Covid-19 vaccines now see spike in cases: Report
Countries like Mongolia, Seychelles and Bahrain relied on Covid-19 vaccines made by China to combat the coronavirus pandemic, but are now battling a surge in infections, according to a report in New York Times (NYT).
Examples from several 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.
In Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, about 50 to 68% of the populations have been fully inoculated with Chinese vaccines, outpacing the United States, according to Our World in Data, quoted by the NYT. However, they are also 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, which relied mostly on Sinopharm, reported more than 716 Covid-19 cases per million. Mongolia, relying on Chinese aid, quickly rolled out an inoculation program and eased restrictions, vaccinating 52 per cent of its population. However, it recorded 2,400 new infections on Sunday, a quadrupling from a month before.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates were the first two countries to approve the Sinopharm shot, even before late-stage clinical trial data was released. Since then, there have been extensive reports of vaccinated people falling ill in both countries, NYT reported.
In a statement, however, China's foreign ministry said 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 maintain controls, according to NYT.
"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.
While the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines 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%.
Despite the spike in Covid-19 cases, officials in both the Seychelles and Mongolia have defended Sinopharm, saying it is effective in preventing severe cases of the disease.