Nearly 1 million Chinese have already been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines: report
- Nearly one million Chinese, comprising frontline workers, customs officials, and transportation workers were jabbed with the novel coronavirus vaccines.
- The premature vaccination drive is a part of the government’s aggressive efforts to mitigate the virus and set the ailing economy back while giving Washington a mouth-shut response.
- So far, the vaccines are being distributed in a decentralized fashion, with regional governments making announcements about the availability of the vaccines.
- But what is unusual, perhaps questionable is the fact, all the three vaccine candidates that have been jabbed to the nearly one million people are yet to go through the critical phase III clinical trial.
KOLKATA (India) — At least three vaccines from two Chinese candidates were given a green signal by the People’s Republic of China to inoculate members of the public, while the world eagerly awaits an approved jab.
Nearly one million Chinese, comprising frontline workers, customs officials, and transportation workers were jabbed with the novel coronavirus vaccines produced by Chines pharma giant Sinopharm Group, said the chair in an interview with Sichuan Daily.
China’s state council launched the unusual vaccination drive, and if media reports are to be believed, it has been an ongoing project since late July.
Two out of the three approved vaccines belonged to Sinopharm Group and one came from another candidate Sinovac. Both the vaccines are yet to pass the phase III clinical trial.
The report comes at a time when COVID-19 in China has been largely contained with very few local cases arising from time to time. Yet, Vox reports, the public has been pouring out to get jabbed under the unconventional measure by the government.
The premature vaccination drive is a part of the government’s aggressive efforts to mitigate the virus and set the ailing economy back. Late in July, the Xi Jinping-led government launched an emergency vaccination program citing the government approval is in line with the law.
“Most cases in China now are imported, so border officials are a high-risk group,” Zheng Zhongwei, director of the National Health Commission’s (NHC’s) science and technology development center, told in August announcing the approval of inoculating certain sections of the society in August.
According to the report, so far, the vaccines are being distributed in a decentralized fashion, with regional governments making announcements about the availability of the vaccines. The response from the public has been overwhelming for a nation with relatively fewer cases.
For instance, the province of Zhejiang has already done innoculating a coronavirus vaccine to 743,000 people since September.
Executive Deputy Director of the Office of Zhejiang Provincial Leading Group for Prevention and Control and Deputy Secretary-General of the Zhejiang Provincial Government, Chen Guangsheng argued several coronavirus vaccines that have entered phase III clinical trials “have reached the predetermined standards.”
But what is unusual, perhaps questionable is the fact, all the three vaccine candidates that have been jabbed to the nearly one million people are yet to go through the critical phase III clinical trial and have a conclusive result.
For instance, Sinovac said its reports from the last phase trials are due in the next few months.
Meanwhile, three vaccine candidates developed by Western pharma giants like Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca have shown tremendous promise in the interim results of the last phase of clinical trials.
At least two of the vaccines have proven to be over 94% effective in preventing the novel coronavirus, while one of them has shown promise up to 90% in certain combinations.
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A preliminary trial result of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac showed it produced an immune response, but not surpassing what a recovered COVID-19 patient has, Reuters reported.
An interim analysis of Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials for Sinopharm’s vaccine developed by subsidiary Wuhan Institute of Biological Products showed the vaccine did induce an immune response.
Another vaccine developed by Sinopharm, this time co-developed by Beijing Institute of Biological Products showed similar findings in the analysis of phase 1 and phase 2 interim data.
Several public health experts have warned against the perils of administrating a premature vaccine for the novel coronavirus, saying that could expose recipients to unwanted health risks without protecting them.
Administrating an unapproved vaccine could also give the public a sense of unwarranted invincibility, which, in the hindsight could abate the spread of the virus.
But as Western coronavirus vaccine candidates are showing incredible promise, Chinese vaccine candidates have reportedly come under pressure from China to prove similar efficacy.
Do they stand a chance to go global?
But do the Chinese vaccines have a chance to go global, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Western counterparts? In fact, it does. If things go right, Chinese vaccines do hold an edge over the western vaccines that has recently shown promise.
Turns out, the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines don’t require negative temperature for storage, unlike the vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer.
Since distributing the novel Coronavirus vaccines to the millions, or billions will be a daunting task, extreme temperature controls needed to maintain the efficacy overburdens the already tumultuous preparation.
Hence, logistics in the low-key or underdeveloped countries will face issues with infrastructure and maintenance needed to preserve the vaccines.
But the Chinese vaccine can be stored in more adaptable and available temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees centigrade, unlike the minus temperatures for the mRNA-based vaccines of Pfizer and Moderna.
“The (COronaVac) vaccine may also remain stable for up to three years in storage, which would offer some advantages for distribution to regions where access to refrigeration is challenging,” Gang Zeng, a medical manager at Sinovac, stated in a press release for the Lancet study.
China became a target of U.S. criticism and ridicule following the virus outbreak in Wuhan in 2019. Since then, the Donald trump-led government has blamed China for the virus, including nicknaming SARS-CoV-2 as the ‘China virus.’
China, fast-tracking a coronavirus vaccine and even administering premature inoculation to its frontline worker is a reflection of the nation’s efforts to show it has got the pandemic under control.
In a recent round of adopted narrative, China has been claiming that the novel coronavirus did not originate in China, but somewhere else, citing epidemiological evidence.
WHO’s Mike Ryan debunked the claim saying: “I think it’s highly speculative for us to say that the disease did not emerge in China.”