Vaccine strife breaks into the international spotlight again as Chinese vaccines head into the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee said Thursday (March 11) that the Chinese Olympic Committee is willing to provide China’s new crown vaccine for this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. However, the problems with the Chinese vaccine give the impression that this gesture by the Chinese government smacks of “vaccine diplomacy”.

The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for July last year, were postponed until July this year due to the new crown virus outbreak, while the Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place six months after the Tokyo Olympics, in February next year.

Bach: China willing to meet vaccine needs for Olympics

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said via video that China has said it is willing to provide the vaccines needed for both Games.

Bach did not specify how many doses of the new coronavirus vaccine China would provide. There are usually tens of thousands of athletes participating in the Olympics, and other support staff, such as coaches, media, volunteers and officials, can number in the tens of thousands.

The Chinese Olympic Committee is prepared to work with the IOC to provide as much vaccine as needed, Bach said. The cost of purchasing these Chinese vaccines will be paid for by the IOC.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters on March 7 that China is willing to work with the IOC to provide the new crown vaccine to athletes preparing for the Games. He said the safety and efficacy of Chinese vaccines are being widely recognized by various countries, and China is also willing to explore with countries the feasibility and operational options for mutual recognition of vaccination.

Why Chinese vaccines have caused so much controversy

China is engaging in “vaccine diplomacy” by providing vaccines to dozens of countries around the world. However, the Chinese vaccine has come under much criticism internationally due to the lack of complete data from phase III clinical trials, significantly lower efficacy rates than vaccines in the U.S. and Europe, and various vaccination incidents that have occurred from Time to time.

As of March 9, three people in Hong Kong have died after receiving the Chinese Kexing vaccine, and three other cases were in serious condition and were sent to hospital intensive care units for resuscitation.

The Hong Kong Department of health (DH) revealed on March 8 that the inactivated vaccine developed by China Kexing, “Kratom”, has accumulated 44 million doses worldwide, with 56 known cases of death, including three in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Department of Health did not announce the deaths in time, and the news was disclosed by the Hong Kong media two days later. Sources said that the Chinese Communist Party propaganda department ordered internally that all media should not report any news unfavorable to Chinese vaccines.

In an interview with Voice of America reporter Tang Hui-wan, Jianhua Zhong, deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion and a former assistant professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at the Polytechnic University, said Beijing authorities want to pre-empt the development of a vaccine to clear China of suspicion of spreading the outbreak around the world.

Zhong Jianhua said the Kexing vaccine does not even have a Phase III report, so Western countries will basically not approve its use. He criticized the Hong Kong government for ignoring the many deaths and severe reactions to the vaccine, and for being a “dead chicken with a rice cap” (not admitting fault) for the safety of Hong Kong people.

China’s low willingness to vaccinate may make it a source of infection again

Since the end of last year, when vaccine trials were completed in the United States and Europe, vaccination efforts have been rapidly expanding. In the United States, more than 100 million people, or 1/3 of the country’s population, have been vaccinated, while the Chinese public is skeptical of the safety and efficacy of domestic vaccines, resulting in a slow progress in vaccination, with less than 4% of the country’s population vaccinated to date.

Observers say that if this situation continues, and the rest of the world is generally vaccinated, while most people in China are not, then China could once again become a source of infection and transmission of the world’s new coronavirus.

China is the earliest country in this global viral pandemic outbreak. According to a WHO investigation, the spread of the virus occurred in China’s Wuhan region as early as October 2019, before the city was closed and the outbreak developed many times more severely than officially announced. The Chinese Communist Party delayed reporting the outbreak to the public for more than three months.

Because of the CCP’s slow action and deliberate concealment, the people of Wuhan suffered badly before the new coronavirus had a chance to ravage the world and bring a huge disaster to the world.

Bach: Sanitary measures can keep the Games safe

Most people in Japan do not want foreigners to come to Japan to watch the Tokyo Olympics, and they fear it will cause a massive backlash against the Epidemic. But Bach said strict sanitation measures have been adopted for several international competitions held since September 2020.

Reuters quoted Bach as saying, “There has not been a single such competition that has caused a mass spread of the virus or created a serious health risk for the host region.”

Bach said the IOC will do its best to get as many people as possible who enter Japan vaccinated. He said, “I can tell you that a significant number of Olympic teams have been vaccinated in accordance with national vaccination guidelines.”