The São Paulo Government and Butantan Institute revealed that the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine is 15.6% less effective than officials previously suggested
Two days ago, Indonesia became the first country in the world to adopt the use of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine. Known also as CoronaVac, this drug was described as 65% efficient against the virus, in the available data from clinical trials conducted in Brazil.
Today, the São Paulo Government has revealed new data that paints a different picture – the vaccine is now understood to be 50.4% efficient.
The World Health Organisation requirements for any vaccine to be considered successful at containing the virus are that it proves a 50% efficiency. This figure puts China’s Sinovac just about into the realm of the acceptable.
Research published in The Lancet in August, 2020, considered the bottomline for efficiency, finding that a “50% efficacy” could lessen the spread of COVID-19, and might trigger herd immunity: “Although efficacy far greater than 50% would be better, efficacy of about 50% would represent substantial progress.”
Does this percentage change anything?
The data has been opaque throughout the final stage of clinical trials, in clear contrast to the transparency of other vaccines at Phase Three. There will be questions about if the Beijing-based company attempted to purposely obscure the numbers.
Currently, there are already 10.8 million doses ready for Brazil. The end of March will bring roughly 46 million doses, which are urgently needed in the country that is witnessing 8.26 million cases of the virus overwhelm local healthcare facilities.
No COVID vaccine has been approved, but vaccination is expected to begin sometime in mid-January. This includes the Sinovac offering.
The Director of the Butantan Institute, Dimas Covas, said: “It is an excellent vaccine waiting to be used in a country where, at the moment, around a thousand people die every day. We hope that the authorities understand the moment and help our population to receive vaccines as soon as possible.”
What about the plans for Sinovac in Indonesia?
Indonesian officials have not yet commented on the changed figures. The country appears to remain on track to begin their vaccinations. They will continue to attempt a herd immunity strategy, by immunising the younger, more socially and economically mobile population.
President Jair Bolsonaro took a different stance to Butantan’s Director. Throughout the pandemic, he has been criticised by the global community for failing to push COVID containment measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing and an urgent vaccination programme.
He commented: “This 50% is good, is it? All the (criticism) I got for my comments, and now they are seeing the truth. Four months of being lambasted because of the vaccine.”