What do we know about the Russian and Chinese vaccines?
February 19, 2021 6:51 AM   Subscribe

And also, are they "good enough" that if a large enough population is given them, that covid will "go away"? I guess on that last one, are any of the vaccines (including the "more effective" other vaccines)?

I have family in Venezuela, where they are rolling out the Russian vaccine...but I know that the development process was quite opaque. Is more known more know about the efficacy?

And I live in China, and my wife will likely be forced to get the Chinese vaccine soon. Again, I think transparency has not been the strong point of this process, and China has a history of vaccine scandals (though with this one it seems like there is likely a lot of scrutiny). I also might have the option to get it myself soon.

I guess none of the above context is necessary, but most of the news I hear about on twitter etc are about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. What do we know about these others? Assuming one gets a legitimate dose, do they seem to provide, well, vaccination?

And then there is just the broader question about what it will take for the population to be "safe." How much of a country? How much of the world? Do we know yet, or at least have educated guesses? This will certainly have ramifications for when travel is possible (and when China, for example, might open up again), so I've been wondering.
posted by wooh to Science & Nature (4 answers total)
The Russian team reported on the interim results of their phase 3 study in the Lancet earlier this month. So far, it seems safe and effective (91.6% effective against symptomatic infections, 100% effective against serious cases).
posted by mr_roboto at 7:08 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]

BBC has this article about the two major vaccines from China.

It doesn’t discuss what percentage of a population needs to have a vaccine for the disease to be well-controlled, but that should be dependent mostly on the vaccine’s efficacy.
posted by nat at 7:27 AM on February 19

are they "good enough"

I can't answer this for the whole world, but I can try for Hong Kong:

Here we'll (so far) have both BioNTech/Pfizer and Sinovac, and there is some serious public skepticism toward Sinovac. This skepticism is partly rooted in science, and partly rooted in the context of the, um, evolving relationship between Hong Kong's people and its government.

The Sinovac jab seems to only be effective in the low-60% range, but was reported as low as 50.4% effective, barely over the 50% you need for regulatory approval, when tested in Brazil. This was widely reported here and people scoff at the idea that you'd wait months for an appointment and then choose this somewhat-ineffective option when the much more efficacious vaccine is available a few blocks away...yet the Chief Executive is getting Sinovac, and so the choice has been further politicised: some people think if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for them; others who might have been open to it now definitely won't get it.

In fact, just the concept of getting vaccinated at all is still a minority view, with the government taking out a ~$120m USD indemnity fund in case of vaccine-related medical complications.

Finally, starting next week, the Sinovac shot will be available at five vaccination centres, but later in the month/early March, the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine will be made available in dozens more centres around the city [PDF], and given that the centre you choose for your appointment will only have one type of vaccine available, it's apparent that the government expects more people to go for the BioNTech/Pfizer option.

So: if Sinovac was the only option, would I go for it if it meant I could travel again and normal life would resume? Maybe not. Masking and social distancing work, my job is stable enough and I'm able to emigrate if I need to. I'm not going to ever choose Sinovac and then just be around other people with no mask on, possibly infecting them or getting infected myself, if there's a better BioNTech/Pfizer shot available, you know?
posted by mdonley at 8:11 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I'm in Hungary, where we don't really have a choice of vaccines - whatever your local vaccine center is using is what you will get. All the major versions are around, health workers have been getting vaccinated with Pfizer, I read that Astra Zeneca has just arrived, but other brands have also been ordered, including Sputnik and Sinopharm. There has been a lot of suspicion about vaccines in Hungary, not the least because the official spokespeople have no health care background, and also because the bizniz of making deals with the Russians and Chinese for vaccines not OK'd by EU standards is suspect simply because it pisses off the EU. My local doctor, as well as my sister - who worked on vaccines in the USA - said if they offer me the Russian or Sinopharm jabs, I should just shut up and just take it.
posted by zaelic at 3:31 AM on February 20

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