Two new COVID-19 vaccines have been developed by China. Here’s what we know so far

Two groups were given either of two vaccines three weeks apart while the third group received a placebo shot.

The prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has confirmed that the two Covid-19 vaccines, developed by the Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm, contain the viral infection.

The two inactivated vaccines, WIV04 and HBO2, have been developed by Sinopharm’s vaccine manufacturing unit, China National Biotech Group. According to the JAMA study, the vaccines prevent symptomatic Covid-19 infection by 72.8% and 78.1%.

Clinical trials of the new Chinese Vaccines:

A study published in JAMA states that more than 40,000 volunteers from the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, and Egypt participated in the phase-III clinical trials organized to determine the efficacy and safety of the two-dose Sinopharm vaccines WIV04 and HBO2.

The volunteers were divided into three groups. Two groups were given either of two vaccines three weeks apart while the third group received a placebo shot.

Two weeks after the booster dose, only 26 people who received WIV04 developed Covid-19 infection and 21 people who received HBO2 suffered Covid-19. Whereas, 95 people who received placebo shots became infected with Covid-19.

Efficacy of the new Chinese Vaccines ‘unclear’:

Sinopharm submitted the data of the phase-III clinical trials of its two Covid-19 vaccines to JAMA on the 17th of March. However, the paper on the clinical trials was published on the 12th of May.

The study noted that there were some limitations in the clinical trials:

  • Almost all of the volunteers were healthy with no underlying disease.
  • Men accounted for 85% of the volunteers.
  • Less than 2% of volunteers were aged 60 years or above.

Therefore, experts concluded that the efficacy and safety of Sinopharm’s new Covid-19 vaccines among women, the elderly, and those with underlying diseases remain unclear for now.

World Health Organization (WHO) approves one of the two Vaccines:

Regardless of the limitations, the World Health Organization (WHO) approved one of Sinopharm’s new Covid-19 vaccines earlier this month. The approval enabled the vaccine to be distributed widely across the world under the COVAX facility.

It is pertinent to mention that Chinese Covid-19 vaccines have become an integral part of immunization campaigns worldwide. However, Chinese vaccine manufacturers, Sinopharm and Sinovac, have faced strong criticism for not sharing adequate data about the efficacy and safety of these Covid-19 vaccines.

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