Countries that relied on Chinese-manufactured coronavirus vaccines are experiencing a surge in cases, suggesting the shots may not be effective at stopping the spread of new infections, particularly those caused by highly transmissible variants.
China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines have been welcomed by some poorer countries, which rolled out the available shots at a breakneck pace to prevent further devastation from the pandemic. The Sinovac vaccine has a low efficacy rate of about 51%, while Sinopharm’s is slightly higher at about 78%, according to the World Health Organization. By comparison, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were shown to be 95% and 94.1% effective, respectively.
The government-run vaccine manufacturers have withheld much of their clinical data on breakthrough infections — that is, new infections among those who have been vaccinated. The relatively low efficacy rates of the shots mean the virus could still create illness “of a substantial amount in the highly vaccinated population, even though it keeps people largely out of the hospital,” William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, told the New York Times earlier this week.
Four of the countries relying on China’s vaccines to curb the spread of the virus have seen new case rates jump despite impressively high vaccination rates.
The archipelago off the coast of East Africa led the world in vaccination rates, thanks to shipments of the Sinopharm shots from China. Roughly 73% of people in Seychelles have received at least one dose, while 69% have been fully vaccinated, according to a tracker maintained by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, new infections in the island nation more than doubled in the first half of May, reaching the highest average number of cases the country had ever recorded, with more than 4,000 new cases confirmed on average in the second week of May.
Cases have increased 17% in the last two weeks, according to the New York Times.
Over 70% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 61% fully vaccinated. Still, Bahrain faced a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 last month, with a record of about 3,300 cases on May 29.
Sinopharm shots make up more than 60% of the country’s inoculations, and the government is now urging people to get a booster dose of the more effective Pfizer vaccine six months after they complete the two-shot Sinopharm regimen, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Over 63% of the Chilean population has received at least one shot. Roughly 93% of those shots were the CoronaVac vaccine, manufactured by Chinese government-run Sinovac. Still, infections in Chile are on the rise, and scientists have pointed to the gamma variant first identified in Brazil as the probable cause for the surge there.
About 57% of Mongolians have received one shot or more so far, with nearly 50% fully vaccinated. Mongolia was an early adopter of the Sinopharm vaccine, which dominates the country’s supply.
Still, COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed over the past two weeks. According to the Times, cases of the coronavirus have jumped 95% in 14 days.