Researchers in Brazil announced results of late-stage clinical trial data of the Covis-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech which showed that the vaccine candidate’s efficacy was much lower than the initial claims by the Chinese firm. However the safety and efficacy of its experimental vaccine was defended by the Chinese company.
Researchers said on Tuesday that the efficacy of the Chinese vaccine was just 50.4 per cent according to the results in the Brazilian trial which included data on “very mild” cases.
The vaccine, called CoronaVac, had shown effectiveness of 78 per cent against “mild-to-severe” cases, the researchers had said last week.
Purchase agreements with Sinovac for its Covid-19 vaccine had already been made by Malaysia and Singapore and after the news emerged from Brazil both the countries said they would seek more data about the efficacy of the vaccine prior to granting approval of the vaccine for administration and prior to buying supplies of the same.
However the Chinese firm vigorously defended its vaccine candidate’s efficacy and safety.
“These Phase III clinical trial results are sufficient to prove that CoronaVac vaccine’s safety and effectiveness are good around the world,” Sinovac Biotech Chairman Yin Weidong said at a news conference.
He said that vaccines from the same batch were used by different countries for their phase three trials but the same testing protocols was not followed by all of them, Weidong said.
Concerns about the vaccine candidates developed in China do are not put through the same public scrutiny as those developed in the United States and Europe have cropped up after the disorganised disclosures of efficacy and safety results from Sinovac’s trials as well as those from studies of other Chinese vaccines.
The results of the Brazil trials were announced just as its vaccination campaign was being rolled out by Indonesia kin which the country’s President Joko Widodo was the first individual to receive the vaccine.
Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine needed to pass the safety and efficacy standards of local regulators for it to be procured by Malaysia, the country said on Wednesday.
A deal with Sinovac for supply of 14 million doses of CoronaVac was signed by Malaysia’s Pharmaniaga Bhd on Tuesday. The Malaysian company was to make the vaccine within the country later, under the deal.
A deal with the Chinese firm for its Covid-19 vaccine has also been signed by Singapore which is the only high-income country to do so and after the news from Brazil, it said that it will review the official data after it is released by Sinovac instead of taking a decision on the vaccine’s approval based on the efficacy reported so far.
While confirming that it is still on track to receive and administer the vaccine starting next month, Thailand, which has a deal with Sinovac to supply 2 million doses, will seek more information directly from the Chinese company about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)