China is inoculating thousands with unapproved COVID vaccines. Why?

Global health experts say that reasoning is flawed. “There is no emergency in China, because there are basically zero confirmed cases over many months already,” says Jin Dong-Yan, who researches molecular virology at Hong Kong University.

As of November, Sinopharm said “hundreds of thousands” of people have been given its two-shot experimental vaccine, and none had so far developed severe side effects beyond mild pain at the injection site. Many needing vaccinated were due to travel abroad for work, where coronavirus cases are still mounting, health authorities said earlier, but Sinopharm said only 56,000 of vaccine recipients have gone abroad.

There are other risks, too. Antibodies from new vaccines in rare cases can be found to make things worse.

“I think the second question will be around something called enhanced respiratory disease,” says Kim, referring to a form of lung disease that some animals developed after getting experimental vaccines for SARS, another coronavirus that infected 8,098 people from 2002 to 2004.