Many Asian countries are abandoning China’s vaccines, and one Pacific island nation has delayed its approval amid concerns about reducing their level of protection against the spread of the virus. Coronavirus. This also further corroborates the recent opinion that the window of opportunity is narrowing for the Chinese Communist Party in terms of so-called “vaccine diplomacy.”
Millions of people across Asia have been vaccinated with Sinovac or China-made Sinopharm, but Thailand and Indonesia in the past month decided to phase out the two vaccines, which were once seen as the mainstays to prevent infection. against COVID-19 in his country.
On July 12, Thailand said it would select the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK as the second dose for people who received the first dose of Sinovac vaccine. Meanwhile, the Indonesian government from July 16 began providing medical workers who have received two doses of Sinovac vaccine, an additional dose of the US-made Moderna vaccine.
The decision of the two countries was made after reports that medical staff were still infected with the Wuhan virus, and some of them died, despite being fully vaccinated with the vaccines of the country. China.
In Indonesia, for example, while 95% of Indonesian health workers have been fully immunized, 131 of them have died since June, including 50 in July, according to independent data from the World Health Organization. Lapor COVID-19 group, Reuters reported.
By deciding to change vaccines, the Thai and Indonesian governments are essentially “saying that they are concerned that these vaccines are not providing protection,” said Dale Fisher, President of the Alerts and Networks Network. The World Health Organization’s Epidemic Response, told the BBC in late July.
In Bangkok, Thailand, protesters took to the streets on July 18 calling for the prime minister to resign over his alleged mishandling of the pandemic. Protesters also called on the government to purchase an mRNA vaccine to replace Sinovac, a Chinese vaccine widely considered poor quality in Thailand, VOA reported.
The end of the opportunity ‘Vaccine diplomacy’
Recent developments in Thailand and Indonesia come after Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC in May that the window of opportunity for so-called China’s “vaccine diplomacy” may soon close as the United States and other Western nations ramp up efforts to help supply other countries with vaccines.
He added that the reduction in the protection of Chinese vaccines may have reduced people’s trust in them, thereby undermining the soft power that the CCP has gained through “vaccine diplomacy” ask for”.
Mr. Huang’s comments come as the United States plans to ship 80 million doses of the vaccine abroad. This commitment includes 20 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.
In the Pacific region, Papua New Guinea received a notice from the CCP in February that Beijing would send a Sinopharm vaccine to deal with the growing coronavirus cases in the island nation.
But despite the increase in cases of the Wuhan virus and although the CCP provided data from clinical trials for the Sinopharm vaccine, Papua New Guinea delayed China’s vaccine rollout in months until WHO emergency approval in May. But by that time, Papua New Guinea has found other alternatives, including the AstraZeneca vaccine through Australia or through the WHO COVAX programme. .
Pacific public health expert Colin Tukuitonga told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that some of the data showing the effectiveness of the Sinopharm vaccine in preventing infection was “clearly less than what’s been reported”. reported compared to Pfizer and AstraZeneca.”
Clinical trials around the world show that Sinovac and Sinopharm’s inactivated viral vaccines are about 50% to 79% effective in preventing symptomatic coronavirus infection. For comparison, studies show that the Pfizer vaccine can be 95% effective after two doses and the AstraZeneca vaccine is 76% effective.
Jonathan Pryke, director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program, told CNN in late July that despite being presented with a great opportunity to build influence without requiring great expense, the CCP appears to have ” lack of action” and their efforts have come to a complete standstill amid the pandemic.
Data from British analytics firm Airfinity at the end of July showed that China has so far donated 270,000 doses of the vaccine to the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu – less than half the doses from Australia.
In China, more than 1.62 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered, with more than 223 million fully vaccinated, according to state data. Despite high vaccination levels in this country of 1.39 billion people, new outbreaks have recently emerged in 21 cities in seven provinces, including Nanjing, Beijing, Guangdong, Anhui, and Nanjing. Liaoning.
The latest outbreak since July 20 has seen 185 infections recorded in Nanjing as of Friday. A spokesman for the Nanjing government dodged a question during a Friday press conference how many of the 185 infected patients had been vaccinated.
Official Chinese media China News reported that 22 of the first 35 cases in Nanjing were employees of Nanjing Lukou International Airport, which is part of the Eastern Airport Group. According to Eastern Airports, as of May 12, the total number of vaccinated employees was 9,251 people, accounting for a vaccination rate of 90.87%.