China has admitted its Covid vaccines do not work well – which could explain why Chile is suffering a resurgence despite having one of the best rollouts in the world.
In an extremely rare confession, the head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the jabs ‘don’t have very high protection rates’ against coronavirus symptoms.
They are being used in at least 45 countries.
He gave no specific details, but a University of Chile study found China’s CoronaVac jab was only 3 per cent effective in the 28 days between the first and second doses, rising to 56.5 per cent two weeks after the second dose. Mr Fu has since told state media that his comments were ‘completely misunderstood’.
Chile has ordered 60million doses of the vaccine, manufactured by Sinovac, and has fully vaccinated more than a fifth of its population with the jab.
It may explain why Chile is suffering a severe Covid surge, despite having one of the highest global vaccination rates. Almost 40 per cent of the nation’s 19million people have already been jabbed.
The development is significant because No10’s scientists in the UK had pointed to Chile as a cautionary tale for those looking to end lockdown sooner.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty told a Downing Street press conference last week: ‘We want to do things in a steady way because the assumption that just because you vaccinate lots of people, then the problem goes away, I think Chile is quite a good corrective to that.’
Britain is using the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs which far outperformed the Chinese vaccines in clinical trials and appear to be just as effective in the real world.
Analysis by Public Health England suggests they prevent more than 70 per cent of people becoming infected, and reduce deaths and hospital admissions by more than 90 per cent, after two doses.
China has exported hundreds of millions of jabs made by state-owned firms mainly to Asia, Africa and Latin America, but also to Hungary and Turkey.
Mr Gao revealed China, which has vaccinated around 160million people, was now considering using different jabs.
He said: ‘It’s now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunisation process.’
According to the Associated Press, vaccines made by two state-owned drugs firms, Sinovac and Sinopharm, have been exported to at least 45 countries, mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.