China’s top disease control official admitted that the effectiveness of the country’s Covid-19 vaccine is low. But Chilean authorities are defending the use of Sinovac’s CoronaVac. As of Apr. 11, over 10.6 million doses had been administered in Chile.
After Gao Fu, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) director, said during a conference that the country’s coronavirus vaccine doesn’t “have very high protection rates,” Chilean authorities have defended its use.
Chile’s highly successful vaccination campaign relies heavily on Sinovac’s CoronaVac, as the country is facing a catastrophic surge in infection rates.
Chinese officials suggested mixing Sinovac with others to bolster effectiveness. Studies in Brazil have shown that the SinoVac jab is not as effective as promised, although experiments in Turkey and Indonesia showed better results.
A study conducted in Brazil that is yet to be peer reviewed revealed a 49.1 percent effectiveness when two doses are administered less than three weeks apart, falling below the WHO’s 50 percent target. The same study also found effectiveness rose to 62.3 percent when the interval between doses is greater than three weeks.
Research by Universidad de Chile showed that CoronaVac only provided three percent protection against contracting coronavirus after the first dose, increasing to 56.5 percent after the second dose, offering overall protection of 54 percent. The figure is similar to that of the Butantan Institute in Brazil, which concluded that CoronaVac offered 50.4 percent effectiveness. The Brazilian study was key for the Chilean Public Health Institute (ISP) to approve CoronaVac in February.
Chile has received 13.5 million doses of CoronaVac, and the government defended its use. Health authorities said ICU bed occupancy by patients aged 70 and over has fallen, proving the vaccine is working.
Health Minister Enrique Paris said the health board is considering inoculating the population with a third dose to boost mass immunization but highlighted CoronaVac’s contribution to lower severe cases and deaths. “It is 80 percent effective at fighting moderate cases, and between 56 and 60 percent effective against mild infections that do not require medical treatment.”
¿Sabías que la vacuna Sinovac tiene 100% de eficacia para impedir casos graves con necesidad de hospitalización? 💉 A continuación revisa la tabla, y para más información entra a 💻 https://t.co/sKzxj0dTq5#YoMeVacuno pic.twitter.com/VUwfLjpgI5
— Gobierno de Chile (@GobiernodeChile) April 12, 2021
Chile also bought 10 million doses from Pfizer, but only 1.8 million doses have been received so far. Israeli studies showed that the Pfizer vaccine is 94 percent effective. Its use in Chile is restricted to health and education workers, as well as patients suffering from other conditions, whereas CoronaVac is used for the rest of the population.
Criticism from the Opposition
In related news, the opposition and some labor unions have signed a letter demanding “immediate action” from the government.
Signatories said their proposals to confront the pandemic have been ignored, adding the healthcare network “is in a state of catastrophe.” ICU occupancy rates remain at over 90 percent, although authorities look to increase the number of ICU beds. Experts are skeptical, however, because personnel is limited and overworked.
The letter is available here, in Spanish.
Francisco is finishing his degree in Journalism at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.