China offers SA 10 million Sinovac doses as doubts grow over efficacy

Bottles of the Sinovac vaccine are seen at a hospital, in Indonesia as the country drives mass vaccination for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Bottles of the Sinovac vaccine are seen at a hospital, in Indonesia as the country drives mass vaccination for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Image: Willy Kurniawan

China will make up to 10 million doses of its Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine available to SA.

Sinovac’s partner in SA, Centurion-based company Numolux Group, said on Friday the offer was thanks to good relations between SA and China built through Brics and the Forum on China-Africa co-operation.

However, it comes amid growing worldwide scepticism about Sinovac’s efficacy against the Delta variant of the coronavirus and responsible for nearly all new infections in SA.

Malaysia, which is also being ravaged by the Delta variant, said this week it would not order more Sinovac shots after using its existing supply.

Last week, Indonesia followed Turkey and the United Arab Emirates in saying it is considering offering a booster shot to health workers immunised with Sinovac after thousands tested positive for Covid-19 and some died.

Thailand is giving booster shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people who have had the Sinovac shot after seeing a spike in infections among health workers given the Chinese jab.

A study last week from the University of Hong Kong said people inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — one of the two already in use in SA — had antibody levels 10 times higher than those given Sinovac.

Numolux chief operations officer Anton Arendse said the Chinese offer followed the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) decision on July 3 to approve the two-dose Sinovac formulation for use in SA.

First, though, applicant Curanto Pharma has to submit the final results of clinical studies into the vaccine, which has been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation.

On Friday Arendse said: “Sinovac is responding to urgent orders from more than 50 countries daily. However, they have indicated that for SA they will make 2.5 million vaccine doses immediately and an additional 7.5 million as and when ordered.”

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