MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Chinese COVID-19 vaccines "don't have very high protection rates," the director of the China Centers for Disease Control admitted over the weekend.
At a conference on Saturday, Gao Fu also said the government is considering mixing them to improve their effectiveness, the Associated Press reported.
"It's now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process," Gao said. While distributing hundreds of millions of doses of its vaccine to other nations, Chinese officials have tried to spread doubt about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine made using the messenger RNA (mRNA) process, the AP reported. China's vaccines are not mRNA vaccines. But on Saturday, Gao said: "Everyone should consider the benefits mRNA vaccines can bring for humanity. We must follow it carefully and not ignore it just because we already have several types of vaccines already [in China]."
Experts say mixing vaccines might boost effectiveness. Researchers in Britain are studying a possible combination of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine and the traditional AstraZeneca vaccine, the AP reported.
Vaccines made by Sinovac, a private company, and Sinopharm, a state-owned firm, have made up the bulk of Chinese vaccines distributed to several dozen countries, including Mexico, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil, and Turkey. The effectiveness of a Sinovac vaccine at preventing symptomatic infections was found to be as low as 50.4 percent by researchers in Brazil, just above the 50 percent threshold at which health experts say a vaccine is useful. By comparison, the Pfizer vaccine has been found to be 97 percent effective, the AP reported.