The new coronavirus variant has further reduced the effectiveness of the already ineffective Chinese vaccine, and experts are calling on China to pursue the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech of Germany as a booster shot in key populations as soon as possible.
Chinese vaccine’s effectiveness against delta variant may drop below 50%
According to Chinese media reports, the “Comirnaty” vaccine distributed by Fosun Pharmaceuticals in China may be used as a booster shot in the country. Fosun Pharma is the exclusive developer and distributor of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine developed by German biotech company BioNTech and Pfizer in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. In other words, what is commonly known as the “Pfizer vaccine” will be marketed in China under the name of “Fubetide.
Experts say China’s decision to consider using Fubatide as a booster shot may be the result of a review of poor data on domestic vaccines.
Amesh Adalja, PhD, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Voice of America, “What we’re seeing is that the Chinese vaccine doesn’t seem to be as effective as the vaccines made by Modena, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, so they [the Chinese] may have data that suggests that for individuals who get the Chinese vaccine that booster shots may be more necessary.”
Even before the emergence of the delta virus variant, the Chinese national drug, Kexing inactivated vaccine was far less effective against the new coronavirus than several mRNA vaccines currently being developed in Western countries. A Brazilian study found that the Kexing vaccine was as low as 50.4 percent effective in preventing viral infections, close to the minimum threshold of 50 percent recognized by health experts. In comparison, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine proved effective at around 97 percent.
Although the Chinese vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization, we have not seen complete data on the Chinese vaccine, and they have not published Phase III data in a peer-reviewed journal,” said Dr. Adalia. So it’s hard to know exactly what drove [the decision to use a booster], but what we can find with some informal data is that the vaccine made in China is less potent, which may have prompted them to need a booster, which we don’t necessarily need for other vaccines on the market.”
Virologist Dong Yan Jin, a professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, told VOA that the effectiveness of the Chinese vaccine against the new coronavirus variant is likely to drop below 50 percent, and that chasing a booster shot is “very urgent.
Jin called on China’s health authorities to pursue a third booster for those who have received the domestic vaccine, especially for high-risk groups, because the neutralizing antibody titers, response rates in the population, timeliness and protection against the variant are not as good as they could be.
Jin Dongyan explained to Voice of America that, first of all, neutralizing antibodies are the most important part of blocking viral infection and the onset of disease after infection with the new coronavirus, “the titer of neutralizing antibodies produced by the Chinese domestic vaccine is lower than that of the Pfizer and Modena vaccines ……, which is about 10 to 20 times lower. , which means that it is weaker.”
Second, in individual Chinese domestic vaccine recipients, “no antibodies were measured at all.” Jin Dongyan said this problem is more serious in older people, and may be related to the individual’s physical condition, or the dosage may be too low. He added that the GMP vaccine appears to be a more serious problem than the Kexing vaccine in terms of undetectable antibodies.
The third problem is that it is still unknown how long the Chinese vaccine is time-limited, Jin Dongyan said. In addition, the protection of various vaccines against variants of the virus decreases. He said, “If the protective power of our national and Kexing vaccines decreases, the original protective power is fifty to sixty percent, and if it drops by 30 percent like Pfizer, it can’t afford it, it drops below 50 percent.”
Data released by Israel’s Ministry of Health on July 5 showed that the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine in Israel in preventing infection has dropped from 94.3 percent when the Delta variant was not prevalent to 64 percent now. Israeli data show that the Pfizer vaccine remains 93 percent effective in preventing infected people from developing severe disease and being admitted to hospitals.
However, experts have mixed views on how to interpret this Israeli data, with some suggesting that the drop in effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against the variant is not as great. A data compiled by the Financial Times showed that preliminary findings from England, Scotland and Canada concluded that the Pfizer vaccine was still between 80 and 90 percent effective in preventing delta variant infections.
Are the authorities deliberately delaying?
Despite the mRNA technology developed by Pfizer and BioNTech proving to be more effective against the new coronavirus, Chinese authorities have been slow to complete approval of the Fubitai vaccine product, which is represented by Fosun Pharmaceutical. Jin Dongyan criticized this as using administrative procedures to engage in delaying tactics to protect the market share of domestic vaccines.
Fosun Pharmaceuticals was granted the right to develop and distribute the Fubertide vaccine as early as March 2020, but has not been able to obtain approval. Fosun Pharmaceuticals recently said that the State Drug Administration’s validation of “Fubatai” has basically been completed, and the expert review has been passed, and is now in the administrative approval stage.
Jin Dongyan said: “The issue of approving the use of (Fubatai), should have been approved a long time ago, so fake style, is simply delaying the time, so there is actually no meaning. Fupirtide has been approved everywhere in the world and is definitely more effective than all existing vaccines in China…. By not approving it, China is simply playing around with the administrative process. They’re afraid of the impact on domestic vaccines.”
“They did the same thing in the past, for example, with the HPV vaccine – the vaccine for the papilloma virus – which was not approved for a long time, and then finally when the Chinese premier (Li Keqiang) expressed concern, it was approved a long time later.” He said.
“Of course this situation is not only in China, but all countries have this kind of protectionism. Especially China now has its own domestic vaccines, so it won’t let others import them, and there is such inertia in that.” Jin Dongyan said, “If China uses a positive attitude, in the case of people’s vaccines than you, there are only two directions: to upgrade their own products, do better themselves, and close the gap; secondly, it should be a positive approach to mobilize part of China’s vaccine production capacity for the production of Fubotide, which will be more effective, so that both Chinese nationals and other Some countries can use better vaccine products, which is certainly positive for China and the global epidemic prevention and control.”
Experts say the U.S. does not need to pursue the fight at this time, and China’s situation is different
Pfizer is currently applying to regulators in the U.S. and Europe for emergency use authorization for the New Crown vaccine booster, giving the reason that a third dose could substantially boost antibody levels, including a more effective response to the delta virus variant. But the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention responded by saying they do not support booster shots at this time.
Dr. Adalia of Hopkins University told Voice of America, “I don’t think we need booster shots at this time in the United States. To me, you would only consider a booster shot when you see a breakthrough infection in a fully vaccinated population that requires hospitalization. That hasn’t happened on a large scale yet. So I don’t think we need to administer booster shots in the U.S. in the short term.
Professor Dongyan Jin of the University of Hong Kong said that because the Chinese domestic vaccine was originally weak, the situation in China is different from that in the United States and therefore booster shots are needed, especially for high-risk groups and those with immune deficiencies.
The situation in China is different,” he said. There is a gap in protection between the Chinese (vaccine) and Pfizer’s product. Now this situation, I think, is more urgent, and there is a need for a third shot, especially for high-risk groups, which I think should be given first – health care workers, customs, take-away workers and others who often come into contact with many people, as well as people in nursing homes who may pass the virus to high-risk individuals. “
People who are immune-deficient, even with a highly potent vaccine, are the ones who have to get an extra shot, which is the current practice in Israel, said Kim Dongyan.
He said, “If they get a new crown, it’s likely to cause a persistent infection, it’s likely to cause super transmission, and if there is no pre-constructed immunity, the virus infection will cause a persistent infection, which is a long-term infection that will come out in many variants and may release many viruses.”