Chinese vaccines may be even worse than previously thought

Activists supporting a more rapid global distribution of the available COVID vaccines have been praising China for sending so many of their doses to other countries before they’ve come close to vaccinating all of their own people. One of the more common ones being distributed in African, South American, and eastern Asian nations is the Sinopharm vaccine. But a new study out of Hungary is suggesting that those doses may not be effective, particularly among some of the most at-risk populations. We already knew that the projected efficacy rates for Sinopharm lag well behind those of the Pfizer and Moderna doses for the general population, but when it comes to the elderly, the numbers drop even further. How far? When patients who were 80 or older were tested, half of them showed no presence of antibodies in their systems at all more than two weeks after receiving their shots. (Associated Press)

A new study suggests that a Sinopharm vaccine offers poor protection from COVID-19 among the elderly, raising questions for dozens of countries that have given the Chinese company’s shots to their most vulnerable populations.

A survey of blood samples taken from 450 people in Hungary at least two weeks after their second Sinopharm dose found that 90% under 50 years old developed protective antibodies. But the percentage declined with age, and 50% of those over 80 had none.

The study by two Hungarian researchers was posted online this week but not yet reviewed by other scientists.

The study hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, but other doctors who examined the results didn’t find any problems with the methods that were used. After all, we’ve had more than a year to get these testing methods in shape and we’re at the point where doctors should be able to determine whether or not a patient has antibodies in their system. And if the amount of antibodies you have is zero, well… there’s a problem.

If there was going to be one age group that needed protection more than anyone else, it would be the elderly. From the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been told that the highest death rates and ICU hospitalizations were observed among those 65 and older. If the Chinese vaccines were going to fail anyone it couldn’t have worked out any worse than this.

The problems this could potentially cause are compounded by how widely this vaccine was distributed in more than 50 countries. In a number of African and South American countries, there are already millions of people walking around thinking that they are good to go because they’re vaccinated. Some of those countries are already reopening their economies and allowing travel to resume, though frequently requiring immunity passports to participate. And everyone who received the Sinopharm vaccine qualifies for an immunity passport.

A lot of that travel will be taking people to Europe. They have also approved the Chinese vaccines for their immunity passport programs. Once you land and show your proof of vaccination, you are free to travel through all the countries of the EU as you please. But the Europeans could be inviting any number of vacationing retirees to mix it up with the locals while being unaware that the person in question may have no protection at all and could have already picked up the virus.

And what does China have to say about this news? They offered no comment, saying they would “only respond to studies by governments or major research institutions.” Just as we’ve seen with questions regarding the origins of the virus, it appears that the Chinese Communist Party is ready to deny any responsibility for anything that goes wrong and figure out someone else to blame.