Questions brewing over vaccines from China’s SINOVAC

(Photo: Scott Rogers/

Following the report from Brazil officials on Tuesday that the Covid-19 vaccine developed in partnership with China’s pharmaceutical giant Sinovac Biotech was 50.4% effective in preventing coronavirus cases, a number that meets the threshold required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for approval but is well far below the 78% figure claimed by Sinovac last week.

The Ministry of Public Health has already requested further details about the vaccine it has ordered from China and was in line with the process for approval by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Chief of the Dept of Medical Science Supakit Sirilak said on Wednesday the government was still likely to proceed with its order of two million doses, starting next month.

“We are waiting for answers,” he said, “but please understand that the vaccine’s efficacy is only at an initial stage after mass human trials. The confirmed result might take about a year or one and a half years.” He was confident in the company’s methodology, adding: “Sinovac has applied traditional technology, using killed viral particles to create the body’s immune system.”


He pointed out that factors taken into account before placing vaccine orders covered quality, efficacy and price.

Sinovac Biotech had made a promise to ship the first two million shots by next month, he said, but other, possibly more effective vaccines might not be shipped until later in the year. “That is the factor that we have seriously thought about, whether we can wait until that time,” said Dr Supakit. “We have relied on the WHO suggestion that 50% efficiency is enough for emergency use.

However, they said the vaccine had been 78% effective in preventing mild cases that needed some treatment and 100% effective in staving off moderate to serious cases. The government’s agreement with Sinovac Biotech is for the company to ship the first 200,000 shots of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of next month, another 800,000 shots in March and one million shots in April.

The two million shots will be enough for one million prioritised people, including frontline officials, those living in highest at-risk areas and elderly people. The ministry’s immediate goal is to give a Covid-19 vaccine to 70% of the population to curb the outbreak and create herd immunity. Another 26 million doses from the UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is expected to arrive by the middle of this year.

Original writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
Source: Bangkok Post
(Photo: Scott Rogers/