Coronavirus: China distributes non-approved vaccines to thousands of people

Coronavirus: China distributes non-approved vaccines to thousands of people

China has decided not to wait for the times of science. In fact, tens of thousands of people were vaccinated before clinical trials were completed. But experts are worried about the potential negative effects

(Photo: Kevin Frayer / Getty Images) First the employees of the state-owned companies, then the members of the government and the employees of the pharmaceutical companies that made the vaccines. And soon also teachers, supermarket staff and those who have traveled to areas at risk. According to the New York Times, a huge part of the population in China is and will soon be vaccinated against the new coronavirus. Although the scientific community has not yet managed to develop a safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19, the Chinese government has decided to speed up the process and administer three candidate vaccines to tens of thousands of people, thus outside the normal process of experimentation that is used precisely to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a drug.

So far, no country other than China has distributed experimental vaccines on a large scale. While the unbridled rush for a vaccine continues at record speeds, the United States and other countries are moving more cautiously. American pharmaceutical companies, for example, despite pressure from President Donald Trump, have pledged to meet the timescales required to thoroughly examine candidate vaccines before their large-scale use. While in Russia, the first country to approve a vaccine before clinical trials were completed, authorities have yet to begin distributing it.

Of the only Chinese vaccine candidates currently present in clinical trials, those used by the Chinese government are all in phase 3 (the last) of the trial, which serves precisely to test the safety of a drug. But it's still unclear, the New York Times points out, how many people have received these coronavirus vaccines to date. For example, Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned company conducting phase 3 studies of its candidate vaccine in the United Arab Emirates, Peru, Morocco and Argentina, reported that it has already administered it to hundreds of thousands of people, while Sinovac Biotech, a company based in Beijing, he spoke to around 10,000 people, as well as all of his employees (around 3,000) and their families.

Meanwhile, other government communications have asked officials to identify who could stand as candidates to receive a vaccine (emergency use) and to include people in schools, kindergartens and nursing homes, as well as those traveling to high-risk areas. According to reports in recent days by Zheng Zhongwei, of China's National Health Commission, China has obtained "understanding and support" from the World Health Organization in order to start the trial plan for the emergency use of vaccines against Covid-19, before, therefore, their efficacy and safety have been fully demonstrated by clinical studies.

Unapproved vaccines, however, could be dangerous. For example, as experts told The New York Times, in addition to the fact that they can have potential side effects, if they were ineffective they could give a false sense of security and, therefore, encourage behaviors that would greatly increase the number of Covid infections. 19. "It may take three to six months before you get the results of phase 3, and you don't have to wait that long anymore," explained Raina MacIntyre, of the University of New South Wales at Sideny, noting that she would not recommend use in emergency of vaccines before the conclusion of phase 3.

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