Two most recent developments on COVID-19 vaccines developed by Chinese pharmaceutical companies are encouraging:
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) validated Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine for emergency use, paving the way for the second Chinese shot to be used more widely in the world; two inactivated vaccines of Sinopharm have shown to be safe and effective against COVID-19 in phase-3 human trials, according to a study published last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
In the WHO's approval, efficacy results of the Sinovac vaccine showed that it prevented symptomatic disease in 51 percent of those vaccinated and prevented severe COVID-19 and hospitalization in 100 percent of the studied population. Furthermore, the easy storage requirements of CoronaVac make it very suitable for low-resource settings, as stated by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. To put it simply, it's a boon for people in under-developed countries.
As for the two inactivated vaccines of Sinopharm, the study in JAMA showed an efficacy of 72.8 percent and 78.1 percent respectively in symptomatic COVID-19 cases, with rare serious adverse effects reported. It is the world's first published phase-3 study result of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines.
The study is a strong response to doubts that China was somehow hiding the vaccine data - no it is not, it just took some time, as late-stage trials could not be carried out inside the country, where there were not enough COVID-19 cases to test the jab.
As the trials are held in other countries where regulations, language, and other conditions are different and cross-border cooperation is required, it is not strange that collecting the data, writing the paper, and ultimately the publication of such a peer-reviewed study took a bit longer.
Outside clinical trials, results of real-world studies are impressive. Indonesia tracked 25,374 health workers in the capital Jakarta for 28 days after they received their second dose of the Sinovac vaccine and found that the jab saved all of them from death and prevented hospitalization of 96 percent as soon as seven days later, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in an interview with Bloomberg in May.
An unprecedented experiment in the world, carried out in Brazil's small town of Serrana, in Sao Paulo State, showed that after 75 percent of the adult population received two doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine, deaths from COVID-19 were reduced by 95 percent, hospitalizations by 86 percent, and cases with symptoms by 80 percent, local authorities said.
Not unrelated to the stockpiling of vaccines and export control in a few developed countries, the pandemic is recently "rising in the south and falling in the north".
In contrast, China is determined to share the vaccines from early on. While meeting demand at home, China has provided more than 350 million doses to the international community. This is in stark contrast to the "ourselves first" approach of some Western countries.
China supports the World Trade Organization in making a decision, at an early date, to waive the intellectual property rights of COVID-19 vaccines, and also supports the technology transfer from its own vaccine enterprises to other developing countries, and cooperative production, so as to provide new assistance to eliminate the global vaccine divide.
By doing so, China walks the talk to promote the fairer distribution of jabs and resists vaccine nationalism.