COUNTRIES RELYING ON CHINESE VACCINES NOW BATTLE SEVERE OUTBREAKS

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More than 90 countries are using Covid shots from China. Experts say recent infections in those places should serve as a cautionary tale in the global effort to fight the disease, says an article published in The NewYork Times.

•A new era to Seychelles

Mongolia promised its people a “Covid-free summer.” Bahrain said there would be a “return to normal life.” The tiny island nation of Seychelles aimed to jump-start its economy.

•Inoculation programs

All three put their faith, at least in part, in easily accessible Chinese-made vaccines, which would allow them to roll out ambitious inoculation programs when much of the world was going without.

•Countries battling infection surge

But instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.

China kicked off its vaccine diplomacy campaign last year by pledging to provide a shot that would be safe and effective at preventing severe cases of Covid-19. Less certain at the time was how successful it and other vaccines would be at curbing transmission.

•Chinese vaccines

Now, examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants. The experiences of those countries lay bare a harsh reality facing a post-pandemic world: The degree of recovery may depend on which vaccines governments give to their people.

In Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain, and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully inoculated, outpacing the United States, according to Our World in Data, a data-tracking project. All four ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst Covid outbreaks as recently as last week, according to data from The New York Times. And all four are mostly using shots made by two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.

“If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern,” said Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. “The Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this.”

A vaccination on Chiloé Island, Chile. In Chile, Seychelles, Bahrain, and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

•New outbreaks with high inoculation rates

Scientists don’t know for certain why some countries with relatively high inoculation rates are suffering new outbreaks. Variants, social controls that are eased too quickly, and careless behavior after only the first of a two-shot regimen are possibilities.

But the breakthrough infections could have lasting consequences. In the United States, about 45 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, mostly with doses made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Cases have dropped 94 percent over six months.

•Pfizer Supported

Israel provided shots from Pfizer and has the second-highest vaccination rate in the world, after Seychelles. The number of new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases per million in Israel is now around 4.95.

In the Seychelles, which relied mostly on Sinopharm, that number is more than 716 cases per million.

Disparities such as these could create a world in which three types of countries emerge from the pandemic — the wealthy nations that used their resources to secure Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, the poorer countries that are far away from immunizing a majority of citizens, and then those that are fully inoculated but only partly protected.

•Efficacy of Chinese doses questioned

China, as well as the more than 90 nations that have received the Chinese shots, may end up in the third group, contending with rolling lockdowns, testing, and limits on day-to-day life for months or years to come.

Economies could remain held back. And as more citizens question the efficacy of Chinese doses, persuading unvaccinated people to line up for shots may also become more difficult.

One month after receiving his second dose of Sinopharm, Otgonjargal Baatar fell ill and tested positive for Covid-19. Mr. Otgonjargal, a 31-year-old miner, spent nine days in a hospital in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. He said he was now questioning the usefulness of the shot.

“People were convinced that if we were vaccinated, the summer will be free of Covid,” he said. “Now it turns out that it’s not true.”

Source: The NewYork Times