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Thailand switches to AstraZeneca as Chinese vaccine fails to stop Covid infections

Thailand switches to AstraZeneca as Chinese vaccine fails to stop Covid infections

Thailand is switching to AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as a second dose for those who received a first dose of China’s Sinovac shot due to an increasing number of fully vaccinated individuals contracting the coronavirus infection, the country’s health minister has said.

The development also comes close on the heels of neighbouring Indonesia and Singapore announcing a similar experience with China-made vaccines amid surging coronavirus cases. 

A preliminary study carried out in Thailand of 700 medical workers showed that Sinovac's protection rate as measured by antibody level in those who received both the shots ranged between 60% and 70% for the first 60 days after which it steadily declined by half in each 40-day interval, according to a Reuters report. These front line workers will now be given a dose of an mRNA vaccine as a booster shot.

Also read: China’s Covid-19 vaccine flops in Singapore too

The mix-and-match vaccine strategy appears to be the only way out for Thailand at this stage as it is battling a ferocious Covid-19 wave.

China has been projecting itself as the front-runner in the Covid vaccine race and through its aggressive diplomacy forced the ASEAN countries to try out its vaccines. 

There has been a complete lack of public clinical data to back up claims of Chinese companies on their vaccines. Even these claims have been inconsistent which has raised further doubts over the efficacy of the vaccines.

"Singapore doesn't want to upset Beijing," a Reuters report cited Chong Ja Ian, a political science professor at the National University of Singapore, as saying. With Sinovac, it has taken an "in-between route", where it is allowing people to take it if they want, but not really endorsing it, he explained.

Also read:  China must come clean on origin of COVID… We owe it to the millions who died, says WHO chief

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.

Most of the vaccines being used by Indonesia have also 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. Indonesia is now planning to administer booster shots.