The credibility of China’s vaccines has taken another hit as the chief scientist of Sinovac vaccine trials in Indonesia is reported to have died from Covid-19 infection, according to news in the local media.
Novilia Sjafri Bachtiar was working with the state-owned pharmaceuticals company BioFarma as their lead scientist at the time of her death.
The Kumparan news agency reported that Novilia died from Covid-19 infection. Quoting officials at BioFarma, Sindonews also reported she has been buried according to Covid-19 protocol.
Serious doubts have arisen over Chinese vaccines in Indonesia as those who have been administered the doses are also contracting Covid-19 and infections are surging in the country.
Mourning the death of the scientist, state enterprises minister Erick Thohir called her demise a “huge loss” for BioFarma.
"She was lead scientist and head of dozens of clinical trials done by BioFarma, including Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials in cooperation with Sinovac,” he posted on Instagram.
Most of the vaccines being used by Indonesia have come from China's Sinovac Biotech. Some health workers inoculated with Sinovac jabs have been hospitalized due to Covid-19. A few have even died despite being fully immunized, according to a report in Nikkei Asia.
The Indonesian Doctors Association says that of the 14 doctors who died from the virus between February and May, ten had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac, while the rest had been given one dose.
Although there is a serious problem with Chinese vaccines due to inadequate data to show their efficacy, some countries are being forced to opt for them because of the cute shortage of doses worldwide amid the devastating pandemic.
In a major setback to China’s vaccines, Singapore is not counting its citizens who received Sinovac Biotech shots as being vaccinated against COVID-19 due to lack of data to show that the doses are effective against coronavirus, especially the Delta strain.
"We don't really have a medical or scientific basis or have the data now to establish how effective Sinovac is in terms of infection and severe illnesses on Delta," local media cited health minister Ong Ye Kung as saying at a press conference on Wednesday.
Singapore had allowed some private clinics to offer the Sinovac shot, CoronaVac, from mid-June. Around 17,000 people are reported to have received one dose of CoronaVac.
Local media had also reported Singapore's director of medical services saying last month that evidence from other countries showed people who had taken CoronaVac were still getting infected.