BEIJING (AP) – In the rare case of weakening of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country’s top disease control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them.
Chinese vaccines “do not have a very high level of protection,” said Gao Fung, director of the China Centers for Disease Control, at a conference in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Saturday.
Beijing has distributed hundreds of millions of doses to other countries in a bid to cast doubt on the effectiveness of Western vaccines.
“It is now officially under discussion whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines in the immunization process,” Gao said.
Researchers in Brazil have found that the coronavirus vaccine from the Chinese developer Sinovac is 50.4% less effective in preventing symptomatic infections. For comparison, the vaccine made by Pfizer was 97% effective.
Beijing has yet to approve the use of foreign vaccines in China, where the coronavirus appeared in late 2019.
The GAO did not provide details about possible changes to the strategy, but did mention mRNA, a former experimental method used by Western vaccine makers, while Chinese drugmakers used traditional technology.
“Everyone has to consider how mRNA vaccines can benefit humanity,” Gao said. “We have to be careful not to ignore it just because we already have several types of vaccines.”
Gao has previously raised questions about the safety of mRNA vaccines. In December, Xinhua was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency, which could not rule out negative side effects as they were first used on healthy people.
China’s state-run media’s popular health science blogs have also questioned the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine, which uses mRNA.
As of April 2, according to Gao, about 34 million people had received the two doses of Chinese vaccine required, and about 65 million had received one.
Experts say mixing vaccines or sequential immunizations can increase efficacy. Experiments around the world are examining vaccine mixes or boosters over a longer period of time. Researchers in the UK are studying a possible combination of Pfizer և AstraZeneca vaccines.