Poland joins list of nations with doubts on China’s Covid vaccines

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Chinese vaccine Sinopharm

Poland has decided not to recommend using Chinese company Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine as sufficient data is not available on its safety and efficacy. The European nation has joined the list of countries such as Brazil and the ASEAN block that have serious reservations over China-made shots to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Wednesday he did not currently recommend using Chinese company Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine because of a lack of data, according to a Reuters report from Warsaw.

As in other European Union countries, Poland’s vaccination programme has been hampered by delays in deliveries from producers, such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer, and on Monday an aide of Polish President Andrzej Duda said the President talked with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping about buying the shot.

“At the moment I do not know of any decision, I do not know of any data that would allow for the use of that vaccine,” Niedzielski said at a news conference.

The Sinopharm vaccine has not yet received regulatory approval in European Union.

Brazil had suffered a major setback in its vaccination drive as it had initially tied up for vaccines trials with China but then had to call off the move as Chinese companies were withholding data on the vaccines which were showing poor efficacy results. This had delayed the inoculation programme even as Covid-19 was surging in the country and the Latin American company had to place an emergency order for Indian vaccines.

While China had a grand plan of using its vaccine diplomacy to bolster its geopolitical clout, the move has actually backfired because of the poor quality of these vaccines and lack of transparent data.

Beijing had promised over 20 countries including Brazil and the ASEAN members that it would supply them with reliable vaccines. However, with China’s vaccine development programme getting discredited these countries have suffered a setback in the war against Covid-19. They are now turning to the western countries, India and Russia to meet their vaccine requirements.

A frustrated China then adopted a strategy of running down the vaccines of western countries.  However, China had itself approached Germany to place an order  for the Pfizer-BioNtech.  This clearly exposes the hypocrisy of the communist country.

Similarly, while Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times had recently grudgingly conceded that India had world class facilities to produce vaccines, it also claimed that India is exporting its vaccines to gain influence among poor countries.

According to a report in the New York Times at least 24 countries, most of them low and middle income, signed deals with the Chinese vaccine companies.  But the delays in getting the Chinese vaccines and the fact that the vaccines are less effective mean that those countries may take longer to vanquish the virus. China’s coronavirus vaccines were supposed to deliver a geopolitical win that showcased the country’s scientific prowess and generosity.  Instead, in some places, they have set off a backlash, the report adds.

In the Philippines, some lawmakers have criticized the government’s decision to buy a vaccine made by a Chinese company, Sinovac.

Officials in Malaysia and Singapore, which both ordered doses from Sinovac, have had to reassure their citizens that they would approve a vaccine only if it had been proved safe and effective.

Similarly, Turkey which was relying on China has also complained about delays in getting the vaccine which has hindered its fight against the pandemic. Turkey is now turning to Russia for help to get the Sputnik V vaccine.