China Offers to Vaccinate Olympians Against COVID-19

March 9, 2021 Updated: March 9, 2021

The Chinese foreign affairs minister has offered to vaccinate all Olympians who will participate in the Beijing Winter Olympic game next year, despite the deaths of Hongkongers who received a China-made COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine diplomacy is one of the main agendas that the Chinese regime has pursued in the past months. However, the efficacy and safety of China-made vaccines is questioned even by Chinese doctors.

The Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry Wang Yi spoke about China’s vaccine diplomacy at a March 7 press conference during the Two Sessions meeting—the regime’s most important annual conference.

He said that China has exported COVID-19 vaccines to 43 countries and donated to 69 developing countries. He also said China donated vaccines to United Nations peacekeepers and would like to “supply vaccines to the athletes who will participate in the Olympic games.”

Wang said that China has 17 types of vaccines that are undergoing trials now. Three of them were approved by the Chinese regime for emergency use, two types from Sinopharm and CoronaVac from Sinovac.

Epoch Times Photo
An exhibition of SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cell) inactivated vaccines developed by Wuhan Biological Products Institute, subsidiary of Sinopharm Group’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG), during the Second World Health Expo that was held in Wuhan, China on Nov. 13, 2020. (Getty Images)

Hong Kong Deaths

The majority of vaccines that Hongkongers have received are supplied by Chinese manufacturer Sinovac.

On the early morning of March 8, a 71-year-old Hong Kong man—who hadn’t had any health issues when he received the Sinovac-made CoronaVac vaccine on March 3—died after receiving emergency treatment in a hospital for about an hour. It was the third death after CoronaVac vaccinations in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong authorities didn’t link their deaths to the vaccination.

On March 9, the Hong Kong Health Department announced that a 51-year-old man suffered a heart attack and was in critical condition at an intensive care unit (ICU) in a hospital.

He received the CoronaVac vaccine on March 3 and had a history of diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. On March 6, he started coughing up sputum and feeling shortness of breath.

He is the third patient to need ICU treatment after being vaccinated in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said on a radio show on the morning of March 9 that the ongoing serious adverse effects to the China-made COVID-19 vaccines seen in recent days caused fewer people to be willing to vaccinate in the city.

Nip said that only 72 percent of people who made an appointment received their vaccines on March 8, which is much lower than before and represents people’s concerns about the vaccine’s safety. He said in the early period of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, which was started on Feb. 22, over 90 percent of people who made appointments received the vaccines.

Epoch Times Photo
Vials of the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, are displayed in Bangkok, Thailand on Feb. 24, 2021. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images)

Debate in Peru

China-made vaccines triggered a hot discussion in Peru about their effectiveness after one scientist revealed the efficacy rate was lower than the 50 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization for regulatory approval.

Peru is using the two vaccines developed by Sinopharm.

On March 7, a Peruvian scientist, the former heard of the National Institute of Health Ernesto Bustamante told El Comercio that he received a complete copy of the clinical trials report on Sinopharm vaccines prepared by the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) before he first revealed the data to the public on March 5.

“The report said the efficacy of Sinopharm’s Wuhan-made vaccine is 33.3 percent, and Sinopharm’s Beijing-made vaccine is 11.5 percent,” Bustamante said. “I am a professional that helps people understand technical matters. There was no intent to alarm anyone, much less boycott a vaccination plan.”

In Peru, there are two groups debating the issue. One supports Bustamante and the other is against.

On March 6, the Peruvian Health Ministry published a statement in which it said Sinopharm told the ministry that their COVID-19 vaccine reached 79.34 percent effectiveness in its last clinical trials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), without noting if the vaccine was the Wuhan or Beijing version.

This was the official response to Bustamante’s March 5 speech on Willax Televisión.

The ministry hasn’t released data on Sinopharm vaccine trials in Peru, but asked people not to believe in rumors.

Before the debate intensified in Peru, Brazil’s state-funded Butantan Institute released data on Jan. 12 that showed the CoronaVac’s efficacy in the country’s last-stage clinical trials was 50.4 percent, just enough to pass the 50 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization for regulatory approval.

The U.S.-developed vaccines have higher efficacy, with Pfizer-BioNTech at 95 percent and Moderna at 94.1 percent.