Health

China injects almost a million people with unproven COVID-19 vaccine

Caravanserai and AFP

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An illustration shows vials with COVID-19 vaccine stickers attached, and syringes, in front of the Chinese flag, on November 17. [JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP]

BEIJING -- Almost a million people have been injected with experimental coronavirus vaccines developed by Chinese company Sinopharm, the firm said this week, although it has not yet provided any clear clinical evidence of efficacy.

Many of the firm's trials are taking place overseas, including in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Peru and Argentina.

Almost a million people now have received their vaccine for emergency use, Sinopharm's chairman said in an interview re-published Wednesday (November 18), though he did not provide a specific figure.

"We have not received a single report of severe adverse reaction, and only a few had some mild symptoms," Liu Jingzhen said in the remarks republished by his state-owned firm.

The company claims to be "leading the world in all aspects" of vaccine development, although it did not offer clinical evidence from ongoing trials.

Instead it cited anecdotal experiences from those who have been inoculated, including "construction personnel, diplomats and overseas students" who it said have gone on to visit more than 150 countries after vaccination without being infected.

Many who have been inoculated in China are not formal participants in drug-makers' trials and are said to have done so voluntarily; however, observers say in the race to be the first country to develop a proven vaccine for COVID-19, Beijing has been enticing -- or strong-arming -- its citizens to receive the shot.

Reaction to Western successes

Akin to Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent publicity push for his country's experimental vaccine Sputnik V, the recent announcements by the Chinese regime appear to be reactive to news of the high efficacy rates of Western-made vaccines.

Pfizer and BioNTech November 18 announced that a completed study of their COVID-19 candidate vaccine showed it was 95% effective.

Two days earlier, American biotechnology company Moderna, which developed its COVID-19 vaccine with the US National Institutes for Health, said early results showed its candidate was 94.5% effective.

Development of a COVID-19 vaccine has been one of the ways Beijing has tried to mask its irresponsible handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent disinformation campaigns aimed at deflecting blame for and spreading lies about the pandemic's origins.

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Where is it possible to buy the Chinese vaccine?

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