China to roll out its vaccine starting November, but can we trust it?

WION New Delhi, India Sep 15, 2020, 09.16 PM(IST) Edited By: Gravitas desk

Coronavirus vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

China released these pictures last week showing off its upcoming coronavirus vaccine. The country claims that its vaccine could be ready as early as November

China released these pictures last week showing off its upcoming coronavirus vaccine. The country claims that its vaccine could be ready as early as November.

Does the vaccine work?

Nine months into this pandemic, and we still have no cures. Going by most reliable projections, we won't have a vaccine before next year.

Scientists are setting early 2021 as the deadline for a vaccine, and it could take four years for the whole world to access it. But China says its vaccine should be ready in two months. A bold claim given China recently  sold the world faulty test kits and PPE sets.

Will you take a Chinese vaccine?

Very little is known about the Chinese vaccine. But before the pandemic, China's vaccine companies had lost the trust of Chinese citizens for selling ineffective vaccines, and bribe allegations.

Sinopharm is one of the Chinese companies in the vaccine race, and runs the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products. In 2018, this institute was engulfed in a scandal involving defective vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and other conditions, which were injected into hundreds of thousands of babies.

Also read: Amid race for coronavirus cure, companies promise safe and efficient vaccines

The institute has been taken to court in two cases, and was ordered to partially compensate its victims, with the payout amounting to 71,500 USD.

Sinovac is another Chinese company making a vaccine. From 2002 to 2014, a general manager from Sinovac bribed China's deputy director in charge of drug evaluations with over 50,000 USD in exchange for drug approvals.

Sinopharm and Sinovac: Two chinese companies, with a sketchy track record are leading China's vaccine hunt.

November?

Despite the tainted track record the Chinese media is promoting Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. A new claim from China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says the general public may be able to get their hands on the vaccine in November.

Reports say China has four vaccines in the final stage of clinical trial. At least three have already been offered to the essential workers.

In July, China had launched an emergency use programme, and began administering the vaccine to essential workers. China has disregarded global standards, conducted secret trials, and used government workers as guinea pigs. A report from July said that China offered its vaccine to employees of PetroChina, the state owned oil giant, so that workers could "protect themselves when working overseas".

Also read: Coronavirus vaccine won’t be available to everyone before 2024 end: India's Serum Institute chief

“COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in china, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries”, Chinese President Xi Jinping had earlier said, hoping to capture the narrative.

Sinovac began administering its vaccine to three thousand employees without completing trials. Sinopharm went one step further, and inoculated its senior officials and the chairman.

They are chasing a December deadline for the public rollout, and Sinopharm has even announced the price - 147 USD for two doses. The WHO has asked China to prove the effectiveness of the vaccine before it gives the stamp of approval.