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Chinese vaccines are still good enough, despite reports of low efficacy – Experts

Zimbabweans are in a dilemma, the international media has, in recent days, been awash with reports of low efficacy of Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac.

The two vaccines are part of the vaccines chosen by the government in the fight against the coronavirus.

To date, Zimbabwe has only authorised the use of

Sinopharm, Sinovac, Covaxin (India) and Sputnik-V (Russia) vaccines only. 

The news of low efficacy recorded in some of the vaccines has unsettled those who have already been vaccinated.

It has affected the ongoing vaccination program as some have become sceptical over the process, undoing progress earlier made.

Government has however said they are not worried about the reports on low efficacy.

Zimbabwe’s Head of the National Response to the COVID-19 Taskforce, Dr Agnes Mahomva said; 

“I know there is a lot of social media communication on that issue. We deal with science, the clinical trial, and the data that they would have submitted from the Chinese company that would have manufactured that, any modification changes they communicate and we go by the science.”

Dr Mahomva said vaccines used in Zimbabwe are not any different from Western vaccines.

“All Covid-19 vaccines are issued with what we call emergency use authorisation. There is not a single vaccine not Pfizer, not Moderna that has been given the full approval. They all have what we call emergency use authorisation for the simple reason that these are new vaccines as Data continues to come in, more analysis is done. So we will not be surprised by anything that comes at the moment but we still wait for the evidence and the science and not the social media,” said Dr Mahomva.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, Secretary General, Dr Norman Matara explained what this low efficacy means; “We already know that the Chinese vaccine some of them had lower scales in terms of preventing primary transmissions, but what is more important is that the vaccine they still regain 100 percent efficiency in terms of preventing severe disease and death which is what is very important.”

He said there is need for authorities to break down the medical jargon for people to be able to discern.

“Low efficacy just means that it is low in terms of preventing primary infection but in preventing death, hospitalisation and severe disease we still have higher efficacy of 100 percent comparable to other vaccines,” said Dr Matara.

He went on to question the manner in which the media has been covering the issues.

“There needs to be accuracy in terms of reporting such things because what is being peddled in the media that the Chinese vaccines have low efficacy it’s not something that is new. Even when the vaccines came, we knew that WHO threshold for vaccine efficacy is just 50 percent so if a vaccine has 50 percent efficacy, WHO considers that as good enough.”

What this means is, authorities are now faced with a hard task of convincing people, especially youths and the rural population to get the vaccine shots. The hesitancy has not been helped by the news which has been circulating on media platforms. –

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