China has vaccine-trapped Arab countries like the UAE and Bahrain, and a slew of developing countries. After facing initial setbacks in its ‘vaccine diplomacy’, the Middle Kingdom managed to shore up vaccine exports despite concerns about the low efficacy of Chinese vaccines, as other vaccines couldn’t meet the global demand. And the consequences are now for everyone to see.
We have noticed Chinese vaccine failures across five countries- the UAE, Bahrain, Chile, Peru and Seychelles. Countries like Seychelles and the UAE inoculated large swathes of their population, yet there are no signs of herd immunity kicking in. The common factor undermining the vaccination programs in these countries is China-made vaccines.
Now, the UAE and Bahrain are realizing how useless the Chinese vaccine can be. The two Arab countries are now offering a booster shot of the China-made Sinopharm vaccine to those who have already received two doses of the Chinese vaccine.
So far so good? Well, there is a twist in the tale. In March itself, it was reported that the UAE had to give a third dose of the Sinopharm vaccine to “a small number” of people who failed to develop antibodies even after taking two jabs of the Chinese vaccine. Now, the UAE and Bahrain are offering a third dose of Sinopharm, but there are growing concerns about its effectiveness.
The situation gets a lot worse in Seychelles, a strategically located island of fewer than 100,000 people in East Africa. Seychelles is the most vaccinated against COVID-19 in the world. It had vaccinated even more people than Israel, which has gone mask-free following sufficient inoculation in the country.
Over 60 per cent of Seychellois got vaccinated a few weeks ago itself. But the island country made a big mistake- it relied heavily on Sinopharm to vaccinate most of its citizens. However, COVID-19 cases picked up in the island country once it started relaxing Pandemic-related restrictions. The island country is now grappling with over 1,900 COVID-19 cases and restrictions had to be reimposed to curb the fresh surge in infection.
The UAE too faces a similar story. It is the third most vaccinated country, after Seychelles and Israel. 51.4 per cent of UAE citizens have received the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine, and 38.8 per cent have received both doses. Yet, daily new cases exceeded 1,700 in the country recently.
Chile comes next. It is the fourth highest Coronavirus vaccinated country with two doses for 37.4 per cent of its total population and 44.8 per cent with one dose. But again, Chile relied heavily on a Chinese vaccine called Sinovac.
In early December, when Chile’s vaccine rollout was in a nascent stage, the country used to record only around 2,000 cases daily. In March, the number went as high as 7,000 though vaccination had started. The situation eased to around 5,000 daily cases by mid-April. Clearly, the Chinese vaccine seems listless in Chile.
In Peru, the Chinese vaccine was at the centre of a political upheaval earlier this year. In February, local media revealed that several public officials jumped the queue and got vaccinated with Sinopharm in October 2020. They got vaccinated while a clinical trial was underway, and even though these public officials weren’t trial participants.
Then-President Martín Vizcarra too was alleged of having received two shots of the Sinopharm vaccine while the trial was in progress. Anyhow, Marin Vizcarra announced on April 26 that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Both had gone through the full regimen of China’s Sinopharm vaccine, yet they got infected with the Wuhan virus.
China is shipping futile vaccines to the developing world and the Arab world. Beijing has vaccine-trapped a large part of the world. And these countries now come to realize that Chinese medical products are doing more harm than good.