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Sunday, June 4, 2023

China’s Covid-19 vaccine flops in Singapore too

In a major setback to China’s Covid vaccines, Singapore is not counting its citizens who received Sinovac Biotech shots as being vaccinated against Covid-19 due to lack of data to show that the doses are effective against coronavirus, especially the Delta strain.

“We don’t really have a medical or scientific basis or have the data now to establish how effective Sinovac is in terms of infection and severe illnesses on Delta,” local media cited health minister Ong Ye Kung as saying at a press conference on Wednesday.

The decision comes close on the heels of serious doubts arising over Chinese vaccines in Indonesia as those who have received the shots are also contracting Covid-19 and infections are surging in the country.

The Delta variant is currently the dominant strain of Covid-19 in Singapore and was identified in the city state in May. Only people who have received the Moderna and Pfizer shots, are being considered as vaccinated in the official records.

Singapore had allowed some private clinics to offer the Sinovac shot, CoronaVac, from mid-June. Around 17,000 people are reported to have received one dose of CoronaVac.

Local media had also reported Singapore’s director of medical services saying last month that evidence from other countries showed people who had taken CoronaVac were still getting infected.

Most of the vaccines being used by Indonesia have also come from China’s Sinovac Biotech. Some health workers inoculated with Sinovac jabs have been hospitalized due to Covid-19. A few have even died despite being fully immunized, according to a report in Nikkei Asia.

The Indonesian Doctors Association says that of the 14 doctors who died from the virus between February and May, ten had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac, while the rest had been given one dose.

Although there is a serious problem with Chinese vaccines due to inadequate data to show their efficacy, some countries are being forced to opt for them because of the cute shortage of vaccines worldwide amid the devastating pandemic.

China has been projecting itself as the front-runner in the Covid vaccine race but had itself gone in for a deal to buy the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine from Germany for its own use which shows that the dragon is not as confident in its home-made product as it would have others believe.

Beijing had launched aggressive vaccine diplomacy to woo ASEAN, Brazil and Mexico as part of its campaign to increase its influence worldwide.

However, countries in the ASEAN bloc had turned away from the offer and signed deals for the Pfizer vaccine instead since there is no transparency in the development of the Chinese vaccine as is the case with much else in the country.

ASEAN members Thailand, the Philippines have finalised deals for procuring COVID-19 vaccines from US pharma giant Pfizer and Britain’s AstraZeneca which also has a collaboration with Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

Brazil and Taiwan have also raised questions over the Chinese vaccine candidates in the past. The fact that China had sourced 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from German company BioNtech for its own use had only gone to strengthen the doubts of these countries over the Chinese vaccine candidates.

Doubts over the Chinese vaccine were earlier raised when Taiwan made it very clear that it would not buy COVID vaccines manufactured by mainland companies due to safety and regulatory concerns.

Communist China has been divulging very little about its vaccine development programme to the outside world. Even without final approval, more than 1 million healthcare workers and others who are seen as facing a high risk of infection in China had received experimental vaccines under emergency use permission. But the developer has yet to disclose how effective their vaccines are and the possible side effects that they may have.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)

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