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The world condemns China's vaccine, is it just for profit__low.mp4

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Published on 25 Sep 2021 / In News and Politics

The main Chinese vaccines appear to be working well against the Delta variant—but not as well as some of their foreign counterparts.

Recent studies suggest that China’s main vaccines from private maker Sinovac and state-owned firm Sinopharm are highly effective in preventing severe illness and death among those fully vaccinated. The studies provide backing for the World Health Organization’s May and June approvals of the jabs from the two Chinese vaccine producers.

Still, new studies have questioned the efficacy of the Chinese vaccines in comparison with other vaccines from makers like Germany’s BioNTech, the U.S.’s Moderna, and the U.K.’s AstraZeneca.

The evidence has come out as more countries have begun to lessen their reliance on imports of Chinese vaccines.

This week, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, announced that it would require citizens fully vaccinated with Sinopharm jabs to get a third booster dose of Sinopharm or another vaccine. Brazil and Turkey have similarly opted for booster shots. Thailand is employing mix-and-match strategies with Western jabs to bolster the efficacy of Chinese vaccines. Malaysia has begun to phase out the use of Sinovac’s vaccine owing to questions about its efficacy.

But based on recent studies, experts say that China’s main vaccines are still providing people with a level of protection against the Delta variant. The scientific consensus remains that getting a Sinopharm or Sinovac jab is far better than getting no vaccine at all.

The studies
In China, researchers recently found that the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines had a combined efficacy of 70% in preventing COVID-19 infections during a Delta-driven outbreak in the southern city of Guangzhou.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, tracked over 10,000 people infected and their close contacts in an outbreak that infected 167 people with the virus. The study also showed that the vaccines were 100% effective in preventing severe cases and deaths.

“You have to take the results with a grain of salt because it is based on a very small sample size,” says Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. “They might have overestimated the efficacy rate of the Chinese vaccines.”

In another recent preprint study from Bahrain, government researchers in partnership with Columbia University recently examined how China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine performed in comparison with Russia’s Sputnik V, Germany’s BioNTech, and the U.K.’s AstraZeneca. The study was conducted from May until August, tracking national data related to vaccine uptake, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to COVID-19, and coincided with the emergence of the Delta variant in Bahrain.

The results showed that recipients of the Sinopharm vaccine, and especially older populations, faced a higher risk of breakthrough infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, compared with people vaccinated with one of the other vaccines.

But even as Sinopharm’s vaccine may not be performing as strongly as its counterparts, the data revealed it to be effective in stopping some infections and deaths among those vaccinated.

“The hospitalized cases are mostly the unvaccinated” in the Bahrain study and worldwide, says Ashley St. John, an associate professor of immunology at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore. “While the various vaccines have differing efficacy, all of the WHO-approved vaccines provide some degree of protection from severe disease.”

Another recent study has suggested that China’s Sinovac vaccine may similarly provide less protection to elderly populations. Now, governments may consider changing their strategies of how to deploy the jabs.

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