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US medical journal says Sinopharm vaccine shows more than 72 per cent efficacy against Covid-19

Vaccines from China’s Sinopharm successfully contained Covid-19, according to a study by a leading US medical journal.

The two inactivated vaccines developed by Sinopharm’s vaccine-making unit, China National Biotec Group Company, prevented symptomatic infections by 72.8 per cent and 78.1 per cent, largely in line with what the state-owned drugmaker previously announced.

The findings were reported in the May 26 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sinopharm was trialled in the UAE and since being rolled out has contributed to helping the country to lead the world in Covid-19 vaccine doses provided per 100 people.

Chinese shots, including those from Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech Ltd, another Beijing-based vaccine maker, have formed the backbone of vaccine programmes in countries ranging from Hungary and Serbia to the Seychelles and Peru.

Sinopharm approved by World Health Organisation
There has been anticipation of adequate data about the vaccines, and a medical review of their efficacy.

The World Health Organisation however, this month approved the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use.

The Who’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation estimated its efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalised disease to be 79 per cent.

“The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate Covid-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk,” said Dr Mariangela Simao, the WHO’s assistant director general for access to health products.

The Sinopharm vaccine was registered for use in the UAE by the Ministry of Health and Prevention on December 9.

A study conducted in Abu Dhabi, where the vaccine accounts for the bulk of doses administered, found it was 100 per cent effective at preventing death and 93 per cent effective in preventing hospital admission.

The UAE has administered more than 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since December, with case numbers dropping from a high of close to 4,000 in early February to below 2,000 a day for the past month.

The Sinopharm vaccine is now being given to Chinese citizens on visit visas in Dubai from this week.

No serious infections
The study published in JAMA included 40,832 volunteers from the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan. They were equally split into three groups and received either two doses of the vaccines, three weeks apart, or a placebo.

Two weeks after the second shot, infections developed in 26 people given the vaccine known as WIV04, 21 of those given the vaccine known as HBO2 and 95 given a placebo shot.

None of the volunteers given an active vaccine developed severe disease, compared with two of those given a placebo.

The results were initially submitted to JAMA on March 17, Sinopharm’s subsidiary China National Biotec Group said. The paper was accepted for publication on May 12.

The published study revealed some limitations in the vaccine trial, with testing skewed towards men, As a result, there is little evidence about the efficacy and safety among women, as well as the elderly and those with underlying diseases.

The decision by WHO to clear one of Sinopharm’s Covid shots paved the way for it to be more widely distributed around the world through the Covax facility that provides access to safe and effective vaccines.

Key details on another Sinovac shot were released in pre-print form, without a formal peer review or publication. That vaccine has yet to get the green light from the WHO, although more than 380 million doses have been distributed around the world.