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China Considering Foreign Booster Shot to Improve Efficacy of Its Vaccines


Jun 26, 2011
Viet Nam
Viet Nam
China is reportedly considering using a foreign vaccine as a booster shot for people who have been fully inoculated with Chinese vaccines such as Sinovac and Sinopharm.

According to Caixin, a respected Chinese financial magazine, drug regulators in China have completed an expert panel review of the booster vaccine jointly developed by China's Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Fosun Pharma) and German company BioNTech. The booster shot, Fosun-BioNTech COVID-19, is now in the administrative review stage.

The report came days after Thailand and Indonesia announced they would switch from doses made in China to Western vaccines.

For Beijing, which has been touting the effectiveness of its vaccines for months and donating and selling doses to low- and middle-income countries eager for protection in an effort often referred to as "vaccine diplomacy," the possibility of a booster shot may be seen as a blow.

FILE PHOTO: A worker unloads a box of Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from a…
FILE - A worker unloads a box of Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac vaccines from a Chinese military aircraft at Villamor Air Base in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, Feb. 28, 2021.

"It is implicitly an admission that they are not doing well with their own vaccines," Steve Morrison told VOA Mandarin. Morrison is the senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank.

VOA Mandarin contacted the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Foreign Ministry in Beijing for further comment on the possibility of a booster for Chinese-made vaccines. Embassy staff referred VOA to the two companies as well as "competent authorities in China." VOA did as suggested but received no responses.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told VOA Mandarin in a virtual online interview that although the data on the Chinese vaccines are not widely available and China has yet to publish its phase 3 data in a peer-reviewed journal, "We've anecdotally seen lower efficacy with Chinese-made vaccines, and that may be prompting the need for a booster."

Shih Shin-ru, director of the Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections and professor at the department of medical biotechnology and laboratory science at Chang Gung University in Taiwan, said a "good" vaccine should be safe and immunogenic (able to produce enough neutralizing antibody) and protect against real infection. At the start of developing any vaccine, scientists cannot know "how good" the vaccine in development might be, she said. But recently, as more studies have been conducted, scientists can correlate immunogenicity to protection rate, Shih added.

People work in a laboratory of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental coronavirus disease (COVID-19)…
FILE - People work in a laboratory of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, during a government-organized media tour in Beijing, China, September 24, 2020.
"Therefore, I think scientists in China also realized the fact of low antibody [levels] in the serum of Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines. Therefore, they may suggest the Chinese government has another shot as a booster," Shih told VOA Mandarin in an email.

According to a World Health Organization study published early last month, in a large phase 3 trial in Brazil, two doses of the vaccine developed by Sinovac/China National Pharmaceutical Group, administered 14 days apart, had an efficacy rate of 51% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, 100% against severe COVID-19 and 100% against hospitalization, with protection starting 14 days after the second dose.

Earlier this month, the American news outlet CNBC reported that of the six countries worldwide with the highest rates of inoculation, adjusted for population, five countries that relied on vaccines from China showed elevated weekly numbers of COVID-19 cases.

In contrast, real-world data gathered by Israel's Ministry of Health show that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine's effectiveness was at least 97% in preventing symptomatic disease, severe-to-critical disease and death, according to an article on Pfizer's website in March.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had an efficacy rate of 94.1% after two doses, according to U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research published on January 1.

A healthcare worker tests a youth person for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a temporary COVID-19 testing centre, at…
FILE - A health care worker tests a young person for COVID-19 at a temporary testing center, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 8, 2021.
Earlier this month, however, as the delta variant caused an increase in Israel's number of COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health announced that the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dropped to 64% against all coronavirus infections from about 95% in May. Israel has more than 852,940 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, and 6,450 deaths as of Tuesday.

Jin Dong-Yan, a professor at Hong Kong University's School of Biomedical Sciences, said in a phone interview with VOA Mandarin that the plummeting effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the face of variants meant that Chinese vaccine efficacy could drop to well under 50% in preventing infections by new variants. This, he said, would make booster shots "imperative."

Jason Li, a research associate with the East Asia program at the Stimson Center in Washington, told VOA Mandarin in an email that "China's move [to consider a Pfizer booster] could be a positive sign against the worst fears of unproductive 'vaccine diplomacy' competition — at least from the Chinese side" and could indicate that "the Chinese authorities may be putting public health above politics, for now."

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The Accountant

Aug 13, 2016
Recently israel claimed that pfizer efficacy is around 38% in case of indian variant.

Havent seen any article on this. If chinese are planning to cover other aspects with a jv then they are incompetent. Hypocrisy


Dec 20, 2011
This article is written and paid by US propaganda machine. What else you expect they said about their rival vaccine? The US vaccines are also not very effective against India variant virus. If US vaccines are effective against India variant virus, why the cases go up again? Not only in US, in Israel, where more than 90% population are vaccinated with US Vaccines, cases also goes up again? that is why saying US vaccines are better does not make any sense. We should listen to reality, not propaganda.
Covid cases are rising again in all 50 states across U.S. as delta variant tightens its grip

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