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Health Ministry requests more info on Chinese vaccine after effectiveness rate revised down

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Hakan Nural for UnSplash

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry has called for more information from the makers of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine, after its effectiveness rating was revised downwards by researchers in Brazil. The Sinovac Biotech jab was originally confirmed as 78% effective in trials in the South American country, but that has now changed to just over 50%.

The research team at Brazil’s Butantan Institute say the discrepancy is a result of the higher rate not including patients who recorded “very mild” symptoms and did not need any medical treatment. They insist the vaccine is still 78% effective in preventing mild cases that do need treatment and 100% effective at preventing moderate to serious infections.

Meanwhile, Supakit Sirilak from Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences says the government still plans to take delivery of 2 million doses of the vaccine, starting with 200,000 next month. The next shipment of 800,000 doses will arrive by the end of March, followed by the final shipment of 1 million doses by the end of April. Medical workers, healthcare volunteers and elderly and other “high risk” groups will be prioritised to receive the vaccine. In total, the ministry hopes to vaccinate 70% of the population with the goal of achieving herd immunity.

Supakit says Sinovac Biotech has already been sent a request for additional information on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, which he says is in line with the Food and Drug Administration approval process.

“We are waiting for answers, but please understand that the vaccine’s efficacy is only at an initial stage after mass human trials. The confirmed result might take about a year or 1 and a half years. Sinovac has applied traditional technology, using killed viral particles to create the body’s immune system.”

Supakit says around 100,000 medical workers and military staff have already received the Chinese vaccine, without any adverse effects being reported, pointing out that other vaccines may not be received until later in the year. The government is expected to take delivery of 26 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine by mid-2021.

“That is the factor that we have seriously thought about, whether we can wait until that time. We have relied on the World Health Organisation suggestion that 50% efficiency is enough for emergency use. We are still committed to the original plan to get the vaccine by next month.”

The government has also given the nod to local administrations who wish to purchase their own vaccine supplies, provided the jabs have FDA approval. The local administrative organisation in the southern province of Yala is calling on local bodies to obtain their own vaccine supplies. The mayor of Nakhon Yala, Pongsak Yingchoncharoen, says his local authority is budgeting 100 million baht to buy enough doses for 70,000 residents. The mayor of Nakhon Nonthaburi municipality, Somnuek Thanadechakul, has also confirmed a plan to buy vaccines and is budgeting 260 million baht for procurement.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 11:29 am

    The problem isn’t so much if “the vaccine is still 78% effective in preventing mild cases that do need treatment and 100% effective at preventing moderate to serious infections”, which if true is more than good enough for me and I’d be more than happy with, but is if anything the manufacturers (Sinovac) and China say can still be believed after all the smoke and mirrors have been removed.

    This isn’t the same sort of “mistake” as AstraZeneca where the results of different large trials were averaged out, but it’s the wholesale fudging of trials that were already inadequate according to industry norms and then fudged again.

    … and ‘so what’ if “around 100,000 medical workers and military staff have already received the Chinese vaccine, without any adverse effects being reported”, even if that’s true?

    Medical workers are generally younger, fitter and healthier than the general population, and the military HAVE to be a lot younger, fitter and healthier – it’s a job requirement, FFS!

    They’re NOT the same as the “elderly and other high risk groups”.

    Surely that’s obvious???

  2. Avatar


    Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Issan John, what’s the matter with you today?, you are not toeing the government line that this vaccine is good, are you feeling unwell?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 1:15 pm

      I’ve made similar comments about the vaccine before, as I have about the government and anything else here I disagree with. Frequently.

      I’ve always thought that if you blindly criticise everything, regardless of whether it’s done well or badly but just because of who’s doing it, then it’s a bit crying “Wolf”. Others take a different view.

  3. Avatar


    Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    If China’s economy is still able to function (and even grow) with the pandemic while the rest of the world economies are compromised, then there is zero motivation for China to produce an effective vaccine. In fact the logic according to many in the Chinese govt is that if the current world situation ultimately benefits China more than not, then it is not only not beneficial but mandatory to produce a non-effective vaccine. This is not seen as ‘morally void’ but as simple strategic necessity; its not ‘why would you ever do that?’, but rather ‘if you are truly patriotic then why wouldn’t you?’. By this perspective, gaining any advantage over your adversaries (by ANY means) is not viewed as an ethical issue in any context. Rather it is a demonstration of superior cultural strength and intellectual fortitude.

    I was a consultant to an American company that wanted to do a one-time production deal with Chinese manufacturers. They only needed to make one large production of a fixed number of items without making further production runs after. The Chinese manufacturer simply made initial samples of high quality and then when the funds were paid made the production run using much lesser quality materials because it was a great financial gain for them and for China. The result was a complete failure of the product which was only licensed for the USA market when quality levels were hopelessly inadequate, and the USA company went bankrupt very quickly. When the US company took legal action it had to be done in China and the ultimate result was they were simply informed that ‘executives in that manufacturing industry had been disciplined and removed from positions’. There was some mention that the officers of the US company should have known that their production approach would naturally lead to the destruction of their business; ‘they should have been smarter and take more personal responsibility for failure’.

  4. Avatar

    Bobby M

    Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 1:55 pm


    I understand Brazil have announced a new strain of the virus. Also discovered in Japan in travellers from Brazil.

    Is it that the new strain is is resistant to the Chinese vaccine ?

    Could the Chinese vaccine be responsible?

    From The Mail Online

    All travel from Brazil will be banned today to stop the spread of a new virus strain.

    It is understood ministers will today consider imposing a complete ban on flights and visitors for the whole of South America to tackle the Brazil variant. This would mirror beefed-up restrictions brought in for South Africa due to its mutant strain.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 2:35 pm

      Not sure about the new strain, but this can’t be connecetd to it as it’s just a review of the old data from the trials, not new data.

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