More than a year after the first Coronavirus case spurt out in the red state of China, the communist regime is nowhere near to rolling out a vaccine that is fully developed and gone through the required stages of trials before being approved for public use. However, as early as July, Chinese citizens are being provided with the experimental vaccines. And the number of people that have taken such doses has already crept into millions.
The only question that arises from the entire rendezvous is — China is aggressively marketing its Sinovac vaccine in foreign countries and has even taken tenders to supply them to countries such as Turkey and Chile but why is it not rolling out the vaccine officially to its citizens if it has so much faith in it? Is it a repeat of China’s mask diplomacy? — The abhorrent mask diplomacy where China supplied sub-standard medical equipment to the world so that it could receive positive PR after inflicting a deadly virus upon the world. Or is China scaling up the testing by using its citizens as the guinea pigs, without them knowing and then sending them to foreign shores, thereby putting the lives of everyone that comes in contact with the carriers of the virus in jeopardy?
Deploying unproven vaccines carries huge risks – both for those receiving the vaccination and epidemic control efforts. The major worry is that vaccinations will give people who’ve had them a sense of invincibility that is not warranted – and that could help spread the virus.
In 1976, a rushed campaign to immunize millions of Americans against swine flu subsequently resulted in a small proportion developing chronic fatigue syndrome and helped spark the modern anti-vaxxer movement. This handing out a pre-approval vaccine without sufficient monitoring of efficacy and the health risks of participants stoked public misinformation.
Similarly, despite the warnings of international public health experts, the unofficial rollout of the vaccine in China is gathering pace. At least three – all inactivated vaccines from Sinopharm and Sinovac – have been approved for emergency use outside the clinical trials, and some local governments have reportedly allowed residents to take the Sinovac vaccine.
However, the results revealed that while Sinovac Biotech’s experimental vaccine “CoronaVac” triggered an immune response, the level of antibodies produced was lower compared to people who had recovered from the disease. The “moderate results” came in stark contrast to US firms Moderna and Pfizer declaring their candidates over 90% effective in late-stage trials. The Oxford vaccine and the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine effectiveness also hovers in the 70-90 per cent mark.
Moreover, Chinese drugmakers are facing criticism for not publicizing clinical data of the vaccine studies and pressure is mounting on them to show proof that the candidates are indeed effective.
Thailand and the Philippines have recently signed deals to procure millions of doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University. Similarly, Malaysia has signed an agreement with US-based Pfizer to obtain 12.8 million doses for 20 per cent of its population. Brazil, which has the third-highest number of cases in the world, is also taking a cautious approach with the Chinese vaccine. President Jair Bolsonaro, a vociferous China critic, has openly attacked the vaccine for lacking credibility and it remains unclear whether the federal government will include it in its national inoculation program.
Brazil is one of the test sites where Sinopharm is conducting the stage-3 human trials. And if a country where the trials are being held is not confident in using the said vaccine, then it speaks volumes about the effectiveness and trustworthiness of the Chinese and its medicine.
Turkey, another volatile country and in the unholy nexus with both Pakistan and China had ordered the Sinovac vaccine from Xi Jinping. However, soon after ordering the vaccine, the top-ministers of the Turkish government started foul-mouthing the Russian vaccine, out of the blue.
But when Russia gave it a side-eye, the Turkish Health Minister took a volta-face and announced Ankara will have no problem in accepting the vaccine from Russia. With China’s one more ally moving away from its indigenous vaccine, Xi Jinping’s dream of engaging in vaccine diplomacy and creating a ‘messiah’ like the image is going down the drain.
China is doing a huge disservice to humanity by engaging in mass field testing, in an attempt to reap some short term gains. Therefore, the world should steer away from the Chinese vaccine until its effectiveness is proven.