Safety Concerns Raised Over China Administering Experimental Covid-19 Vaccines To Thousands Of Its Citizens

Safety Concerns Raised Over China Administering Experimental Covid-19 Vaccines To Thousands Of Its CitizensCovid-19 vaccine - representative image (Twitter)

With China inoculating thousands of its citizens with the experimental Covid-19 vaccines under development, the global health experts have raised concerns over the safety of the drugs that have not completed standard testing, reports The Hindu Businessline.

China had launched a vaccine emergency use programme in July. Under the programme, three experimental shots of Covid-19 vaccine developed by a unit of state pharma giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and Sinovac Biotech were offered. Besides, a fourth vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics was also approved for use by the Chinese military in June.

Official data on the uptake in domestic targeted groups that includes medical, transport and food market workers has not been released by the Chinese authorities.

However, China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the Sinopharm unit developing two of the emergency use vaccines, and Sinovac have reportedly confirmed that at least tens of thousands of people have been inoculated.

Further, CNBG has also given hundred of thousands of vaccine doses as one of its vaccines requires an individual to receive two or three doses to be inoculated.

Meanwhile, the Chinese approach to administer the experimental vaccine to its citizens have raised concerns among health experts in Western countries, where the experts have warned against authorising the emergency use of vaccines that are yet to complete testing.

According to the report, the experts have cited a lack of understanding about long-term efficacy and potential side effects as the reason behind concerns regarding the emergency use authorisation of vaccines that have not completed testing.

Terming China's vaccine emergency use programme as "very problematic", Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University said that it was impossible to judge the efficacy of the vaccines without a clinical trial standard control group.

“You’re vaccinating people and you don’t know if it’s going to protect them,” Durbin was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Durbin added that recipients of the experimental vaccines could deliberately avoid other protective measures.

Earlier last week, the late-stage clinical trials of the frontrunner Covid-19 vaccine candidate from British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca were halted over safety concerns after an adverse reaction in a study participant in United Kingdom. The trials, however, were resumed after a safety review.