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Effectiveness of Chinese COVID vaccines questioned after outbreaks in some countries using them

Over 90 countries have been using China’s vaccines.

Updated: June 23, 2021 - 5:42pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

At least four countries that have relied on the Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines by Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech are now amid a surge of reported cases.

China, where the pandemic started, pledged last year that it would have a safe and effective shot in preventing severe COVID cases.

But data has shown otherwise. According to a data tracking project, Our World in Data, Chile, Magnolia, Bahrain and Seychelles all have about 50 to 68% of their populations fully vaccinated. However, data reported by The New York Times shows those countries, as of last week, were also in the top 10 for worse COVID outbreaks.

"If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern," said Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong

He also said "the Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this."

Though it is unknown exactly why the countries with high vaccination rates have more cases. But prevailing theories include the new virus variants appear to be more contagious, health-safety restrictions having been lifted too soon and people's risky behavior after having received only the first dose, The Times also reports.  

Over 90 countries have been using China’s vaccines. The China Foreign Ministry says it does not see a link between its country's vaccines and the spike in recent outbreaks, considering its vaccines target the severity of the disease not the transmission of it. The Multi-Ministry Task Force met on June 10 to discuss the issue at hand.

"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 also said.. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have efficacy rates of over 90%. Other vaccines, including those by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have efficacy rates of about 70%.

The Sinopharm vaccine has an efficacy rate of 78.1% ,and the Sinovac has an efficacy rate of 51%.