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China has injected thousands of COVID-19 vaccines

The oil company worker wants to know why he must keep his vaccine secret. When he read the non-disclosure agreement, many questions popped up in his mind, threatening that if he tells any managers outside the company that the company is waiting to obtain COVID-19 footage, he will be disciplined.

What if something goes wrong? Who is responsible? Workers know that the vaccine manufacturer China Biotechnology Group (part of the state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm) is testing the vaccine on thousands of volunteers in the United Arab Emirates, Peru, Morocco and other countries.

He said of these experiments: “At least they are under surveillance.”

; He watched hundreds of colleagues line up around him to give injections at a Beijing clinic. “But for us, they can’t make any guarantees. This is our sacrifice for the country.”

The employee, who has no name for fear of retaliation, is one of hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before clinical trials are proven safe. The Chinese military began vaccinating in June. Medical workers and employees of state-owned companies working abroad were quickly included in the “emergency use” plan. In September last year, an executive of China’s National Biotechnology Corporation stated that 350,000 people had received treatment outside of clinical trials.

After the 2018 scandal, early vaccination of high-profile populations has become a way of expressing trust, demonstrating that China’s medical system has exposed children to bad vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus.

In March, social media users widely shared photos of Chen Wei, a military general and epidemiologist who led a coronavirus vaccine effort, praising her for receiving injections before testing animals. Yin Weidong, CEO of the biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, told reporters last month that he was the first person to use the vaccine after the first two trial phases. The company said that about 90% of Sinovac employees voluntarily vaccinate in advance.

According to the website of a company that was later dismissed, the China National Biotechnology Group began offering free vaccines to Chinese students planning to go abroad this month. The website says that more than 93,000 people have signed up for the free vaccine. The vaccinated students also shared their experiences to local and foreign media. But state media later reported that the free vaccine was “not real.”

According to reports, some cities in Zhejiang Province have also begun to provide vaccines produced by Sinovac. In Yiwu City, Chinese media found that a clinic provided vaccine injections on a “first come, first served” basis, for about US$30 each. According to local reports, most of the people who received the shooting were people who planned to travel internationally, although they did not have to prove it.

A masked woman uses test tubes in the laboratory.

On September 24, 2020, a technician works in the laboratory of Beijing Sannova Biotechnology Co., Ltd. The laboratory is studying a potential coronavirus vaccine.

(Kevin Freyer/Getty Images)

None of these vaccines have completed the Phase 3 trial, which usually captures rare side effects that cannot be found in the early stages.

Chinese health authorities stated that these vaccines are safe and have no serious adverse effects, and their “emergency use” is to prevent imported infections or the recurrence of domestic COVID-19. But health experts outside China have questioned the safety and ethics of this strategy, especially when China has largely contained the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute of National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, said: “This is a huge gamble because you are vaccinating healthy people.”

In a country where the virus is spreading rapidly and front-line workers are frequently exposed to COVID-19 (such as in the United States), this risk may be justified, but Western health experts and vaccine manufacturers have been wary of launching vaccines too early.

“I don’t want countries with highly developed regulations and security systems like the United States and the European Union. [states] Or Japan allows widespread use of unproven vaccines. “It’s immoral and dangerous.” “

The oil company worker usually lives in the Persian Gulf countries, but has been trapped in Beijing since January. He sent a copy of the consent form and confidentiality agreement that he had to sign before receiving the vaccination to the Times. He also provided screenshots of WeChat discussions between colleagues about vaccination.

The worker said that he received the vaccine in September, which was a requirement of all employees working abroad. He is concerned that China’s mass vaccination of employees of state-owned companies and other citizens lacks transparency or is subject to censorship. He said that there is no written document to force them to receive the vaccine, but unless they receive the vaccination, they are not allowed to return to work abroad.

“Are you worried about vaccines? Of course. But are you afraid of getting sick? Yes, you are always afraid,” said an oil company worker.

He said that it was “politically incorrect” to question vaccines at his company. Most of his colleagues are eager for it. They are more worried about contracting COVID-19 abroad than about the safety of the vaccine.

Workers pack rabies vaccine.

Workers pack rabies vaccine in the laboratory of Yisheng Biopharmaceutical Company in Shenyang, China on June 9, 2020. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine for coronavirus. China has mobilized its military in a global competition and conducted fast-tracking to find a coronavirus vaccine, and has participated in several of the dozens of international clinical trials currently underway.

(Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

He said that some project managers are urging vaccination, encouraging employees to get two shots immediately, instead of waiting for the recommended 14 or 28 days between injections.

“I saw someone combining two guns into one… But you must say that you are leaving this country urgently.” A colleague who seems to be coordinating staff vaccinations wrote in a screenshot on WeChat. A colleague said: “I think the three of you can save on travel and return to the project earlier…. Ask them if they can take two photos at once.

The consent form shared by the employees seems to be able to verify the account: “If you need to go abroad urgently and you really cannot complete the two vaccinations, you can consider receiving two injections at the same time, one on each side. The form says.

Although no serious adverse reactions have been observed in this vaccine, this form warns of possible fever, fatigue, diarrhea and headache. Other vaccines on the market sometimes cause severe reactions, such as anaphylactic shock. The form says that if this happens to vaccinators, they should “see prompt treatment”.

Keiji Fukuda, dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, said that a certain interval of vaccine dose is usually required so that the first “primary” dose can stimulate the body’s immune system to recognize new pathogens, while the second “enhanced” dose can stimulate more High antibody levels. Public health and former World Health Organization official.

He said: “Giving two doses on the same day is an attempt to increase antibody levels by giving more vaccines.” He said: “primary immunization-boosting therapy takes advantage of the natural effects of the immune system. The high-dose method is more like brute force. “

Huang Yanzhong, senior researcher for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that premature use of vaccines can also create a false sense of security. He said that China claims that its emergency-use vaccines are effective because they can produce antibodies, “but this is a low threshold.”

There is a syringe of potential COVID-19 vaccine on the table.

Syringes for the potential vaccine CoronaVac can be seen on Sinovac Biotech.

(Kevin Freyer/Getty Images)

More tests are needed to show the effectiveness of antibodies, how long they can last and whether they can resist different strains of coronavirus-a problem that cannot be solved in China. In the absence of active outbreaks, it is difficult to prove whether the vaccine is effective.

A representative of the oil company said on the phone that he “cannot disclose any information about the vaccination.” Sinopharm did not answer the phone and did not respond to faxed requests for comment.

A Times reporter visited the vaccination site for workers of the oil company in late September, which was a clinic near Beijing Olympic Park. The medical staff there confirmed that they were distributing the coronavirus vaccine, but only to employees of designated state-owned enterprises, and said that all their appointment vacancies for next month had been filled.

According to reports, Sinovac, the company that distributes vaccines in Zhejiang, did not receive a call and did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The opacity of China’s vaccine experiments has sparked strong opposition. Papua New Guinea complained in August when China sent mine workers receiving the vaccine to their country without fully revealing whether they were part of the trial or the risk of workers receiving the vaccine.

However, many countries also greatly appreciate China’s coronavirus vaccine, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to make it a “global public good”. Brazil’s health regulator approved the import of 6 million vaccines from Sinovac this week. The United Arab Emirates approved its emergency use of the Sinopharm vaccine in September. Sinovac has agreed to provide 40 million doses of vaccine to Indonesia by March.

China announced this month that it will join COVAX, a global initiative to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines to developing countries. Sinopharm also announced this month that it is preparing production lines in Beijing and Wuhan, and will produce 1 billion doses of vaccine next year.

Regardless of whether there is a vaccine transparency issue, such moves have strengthened China’s soft power, especially compared with the United States, which has been working hard to contain its COVID-19 epidemic, has withdrawn from the World Health Organization, and refused to participate in COVAX.

“When we accuse China of using vaccines to achieve its foreign policy goals, we cannot claim to have a moral advantage. No matter what they are doing, at least they benefit people in developing countries.” “We like to talk about China’s vaccine diplomacy. But the United States is not even involved in it.”

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