Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus The Article Core Values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT

China's vaccines used globally despite concerns

by The Associated Press | March 3, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, file photo, Terezinha da Conceicao, 80, left, and Dulcinea da Silva Lopes, 59, become the first women in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, during the start of the vaccination program in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to dozens of countries. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado, File)

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China's vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccine to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press.

With just four of China's many vaccine makers able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world's population will end up inoculated not with the Western vaccines but with China's shots.

Amid a dearth of public data on China's vaccines, fears over their efficacy and safety are pervasive in the countries depending on them, along with concerns about what China might want in return. Nonetheless, inoculations with Chinese vaccines have begun in more than 25 countries, and the shots have been delivered to another 11, according to The Associated Press' tally, based on independent reporting in those countries along with government and company announcements.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVMdPdeximM]

It's a potential face-saving coup for China, which has been criticized over its initial mishandling of the covid-19 outbreak.

"We're seeing certainly real-time vaccine diplomacy start to play out, with China in the lead in terms of being able to manufacture vaccines within China and make them available to others," said Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University.

China has said it is supplying "vaccine aid" to 53 countries and exports to 27, but it rejected a request for the list. Beijing has denied vaccine diplomacy. Chinese experts reject any connection between the export of its vaccines and the revamping of its image.

China has targeted the low- and middle-income countries largely left behind as rich nations scooped up most of the pricey vaccines produced by the likes of Pfizer and Moderna.

China's vaccines, which can be stored in standard refrigerators, are attractive to many countries that may struggle to accommodate the ultracold storage needs of vaccines like Pfizer's. Sinovac and Sinopharm rely on a traditional technology in which a live virus is killed and then purified, triggering an immune response.

In Europe, China is providing the vaccine to countries such as Serbia and Hungary -- a significant geopolitical victory in Central Europe and the Balkans, where the West, China and Russia are competing for influence.

But China's vaccine diplomacy will be only as good as the vaccines it is offering, and it still faces hurdles.

Chinese vaccine companies have been "slow and spotty" in releasing their trial data, compared with companies like Pfizer and Moderna, said Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the U.S. think tank Council for Foreign Relations. None of China's three vaccine candidates used globally have publicly released their late-stage clinical trial data.

Sinopharm, which said its vaccine was 79% effective based on interim data from clinical trials, did not respond to interview requests. CanSino, another Chinese company with a one-shot vaccine that it says is 65% effective, also declined to be interviewed.

There is also confusion around Sinovac's efficacy. In Turkey, where Sinovac conducted part of its efficacy trials, officials have said the vaccine was 91% effective. However, in Brazil, officials revised the efficacy rate in late-stage clinical trials from 78% to just over 50% after including mild infections.

An expert panel in Hong Kong published data submitted by Sinovac to health regulators that showed the vaccine was just over 50% effective.

Globally, public health officials have said any vaccine that is at least 50% effective is useful.

Information for this article was contributed by Chen Si, Patricia Luna, Sam Magdy, Jim Gomez, Niniek Karmini, Justin Spike, Dusan Stojanovic and Allen G. Breed of The Associated Press.

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 file photo, a worker inspects syringes of a vaccine for COVID-19 produced by Sinovac at its factory in Beijing. Sinovac and Sinopharm both rely on a traditional technology called an inactivated virus vaccine, based on cultivating batches of the virus and then killing it. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 file photo, a worker inspects syringes of a vaccine for COVID-19 produced by Sinovac at its factory in Beijing. Sinovac and Sinopharm both rely on a traditional technology called an inactivated virus vaccine, based on cultivating batches of the virus and then killing it. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2020, file photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a Sinovac worker checks the labeling on vials of COVID-19 vaccines on a packaging line in Beijing. With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s traditionally made shots. (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2020, file photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a Sinovac worker checks the labeling on vials of COVID-19 vaccines on a packaging line in Beijing. With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s traditionally made shots. (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, file photo, a woman gets a shot of China's Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine as part of a priority COVID-19 vaccination program for the elderly at a drive-thru vaccination center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to dozens of countries. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, file photo, a woman gets a shot of China's Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine as part of a priority COVID-19 vaccination program for the elderly at a drive-thru vaccination center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to dozens of countries. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a health worker administers a dose of China's Sinopharm vaccine during the start of the vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 at the Health Ministry in Dakar, Senegal. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has pledged roughly a billion doses of its vaccines to dozens of countries. (AP Photo/Leo Correa, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a health worker administers a dose of China's Sinopharm vaccine during the start of the vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 at the Health Ministry in Dakar, Senegal. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has pledged roughly a billion doses of its vaccines to dozens of countries. (AP Photo/Leo Correa, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, medical workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination in Jakarta, Indonesia. The choices are limited for Indonesia and many other low- and middle-income countries hit by COVID. Vaccine deployment globally has been dominated by rich countries, which have snapped up 5.8 billion of the 8.2 billion doses purchased worldwide, according to Duke University. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, medical workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination in Jakarta, Indonesia. The choices are limited for Indonesia and many other low- and middle-income countries hit by COVID. Vaccine deployment globally has been dominated by rich countries, which have snapped up 5.8 billion of the 8.2 billion doses purchased worldwide, according to Duke University. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a health worker holds a box containing a dose of China's Sinopharm vaccine during the start of the vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 at the Health Ministry in Dakar, Senegal. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to dozens of countries. (AP Photo/Leo Correa, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a health worker holds a box containing a dose of China's Sinopharm vaccine during the start of the vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 at the Health Ministry in Dakar, Senegal. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to dozens of countries. (AP Photo/Leo Correa, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, an elderly man looks at his vaccination card after getting a shot of the CoronaVac vaccine for COVID-19 developed by China's biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, at a clinic in Santiago, Chile. It wasn’t until Sinovac swooped in with 4 million doses in late January that Chile began inoculating its population of 19 million with impressive speed. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, an elderly man looks at his vaccination card after getting a shot of the CoronaVac vaccine for COVID-19 developed by China's biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, at a clinic in Santiago, Chile. It wasn’t until Sinovac swooped in with 4 million doses in late January that Chile began inoculating its population of 19 million with impressive speed. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, file photo, a teacher receives a shot of the CoronaVac vaccine for COVID-19, by China's Sinovac Biotech, at Salvador Sanfuentes public school during the start of the vaccinations for educators in Santiago, Chile. It wasn’t until Sinovac swooped in with 4 million doses in late January that Chile began inoculating its population of 19 million with impressive speed. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, file photo, a teacher receives a shot of the CoronaVac vaccine for COVID-19, by China's Sinovac Biotech, at Salvador Sanfuentes public school during the start of the vaccinations for educators in Santiago, Chile. It wasn’t until Sinovac swooped in with 4 million doses in late January that Chile began inoculating its population of 19 million with impressive speed. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 file photo, workers unload a container of China's Sinopharm coronavirus vaccines at the Belgrade Airport in Serbia. China is providing the vaccine to countries such as Serbia and Hungary -- a significant geopolitical victory in Central Europe and the Balkans, where the West, China and Russia are competing for political and economic influence. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 file photo, workers unload a container of China's Sinopharm coronavirus vaccines at the Belgrade Airport in Serbia. China is providing the vaccine to countries such as Serbia and Hungary -- a significant geopolitical victory in Central Europe and the Balkans, where the West, China and Russia are competing for political and economic influence. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT