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Thai Government on Defensive Over its Heavy Reliance on Sinovac

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Vaccine, Covid-19, Thailand Questions China's Sinovac Vaccine Effectiveness Claims

The Thai government is once again defending its use of the Sinovac vaccine from China as critics continue to pressure over procurement and the vaccines effectiveness.

The government has announced plans to purchase 12 million more doses to combat the Delta variant of Covid-19 after the most recent study of those who received two doses of Sinovac showed “satisfying: results.

The Public Health Ministry on Tuesday held a press briefing to provide an update on the continued use of the Sinovac Vaccine and its effectiveness.

Critics and the public are questioning why an additional 12 million doses of the vaccine were included in its August-September Covid-19 vaccine procurement plan. The public called for the government to instead procure mRNA vaccines Pfizer and Moderna which many believe are better than Sinovac.

Sinovac good enough

Chawetsan Namwat, the Department of Disease Control’s director for emergency health hazards and diseases, said that all vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), including Sinovac, are good enough to reduce critical symptoms and death.

Saying this is their prime focus for using the China vaccines and they should not be devalued.

He said “The key point right now is how to provide the vaccines to people en masse as fast as possible to control the disease and reduce loss of life.”

“We need to provide vaccines to as many people as possible. The combination vaccine is the answer to administering the vaccines en masse and enhancing people’s immunity faster than a single vaccine with two doses. We are going to order 12 million more doses of Sinovac to combine with the limited amount of AstraZeneca,” he told the press conference.

Taweesap Siraprapasiri, the ministry’s expert, said that the ministry has just finished its study of Covid-19 vaccines’ efficacy on 3,901 medical staff countrywide. The test was done for both Sinovac and AstraZeneca.

Dr Taweesap said regarding the Sinovac vaccine, the results showed that its efficacy in preventing critical illness and death is 98% and its efficacy in stopping Covid-19 infections is 72% on average.

The results of AstraZeneca were even better, with 96% efficiency in preventing infection after two doses with an interval of over 14 days among vaccine recipients, falling to 88% after only one dose.

China admits vaccine low prevention rate

Meanwhile, Senior Chinese health experts insist their vaccines are still effective against new variants. But they have also acknowledged that the prevention rate is falling, a trend that risks undermining the vaccination drive.

Furthermore the rising case numbers have focused attention on the absence of rigorous studies from state-run Sinopharm and privately owned Sinovac proving that their vaccines work against the Delta coronavirus variant.

Declining efficacy against emergent mutations of the virus is a problem for all vaccines. But unlike the shots developed by BioNTech/Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna, no research into the Chinese jabs’ efficacy against the Delta variant has been published in an international journal with a robust process of peer review to confirm the results.

Source: Bangkok Post, WSJ

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