Chinese-Made Vaccines Under Scrutiny as Hundreds of Vaccinated Chinese Workers Get Infected Overseas

Chinese-Made Vaccines Under Scrutiny as Hundreds of Vaccinated Chinese Workers Get Infected Overseas
Syringes of the potential COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac are seen on a table at Sinovac Biotech at a press conference in Beijing, China on Sept. 24, 2020. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Frank Yue

Hundreds of Chinese workers overseas have reportedly been infected with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated with Chinese-manufactured vaccines. Experts are raising the alarm as they question the vaccines’ effectiveness.

According to a Dec. 15 story on Radio Free Asia (RFA), at least 16 Chinese employees from a major state-owned enterprise stationed at Lunda Norte province, Angola, were infected with the CCP virus. A Chinese citizen, surnamed Gao, said they all had received the vaccines developed by China's Sinopharm. Taking the vaccine was a requirement for Chinese citizens working abroad.

Sinopharm, also called China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., is a large drug company directly under the State-owned Assets Administration Commission (SASAC) of China's State Council.

The report also said that about 300 Chinese workers from Tianjin Electric Power Construction Company have been diagnosed with COVID-19 this month in Pančevo, Serbia. Most of the infected workers received vaccines made by Sinopharm before they left China.

The Chinese embassy in Uganda released a statement on its official website on Dec. 5, confirming that 47 Chinese workers had been diagnosed with the virus. The embassy did not say that they had received Chinese-made vaccines, but it is customary policy that all Chinese workers take vaccines before they go to Africa as a safety precaution due to reports or rumors of local epidemics.

Chinese workers walk in Cabinda, Angola on Jan. 19, 2010. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)
Chinese workers walk in Cabinda, Angola on Jan. 19, 2010. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)

So far, the incidents have not been reported by China's state media outlets.

The Epoch Times contacted the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for comment. A staff member said that those overseas infections had nothing to do with them and told the reporter to call 12320—a designated phone service provided by China's Ministry of Health. He added that the agency only cares about what happens in Beijing.

At a later time, the publication was able to reach an expert from the China CDC but he declined to comment. He said that his phone number was for private use only and told the reporter to call the CDC directly.

Experts Raise Concerns

Dr. Sean Lin, former U.S. Army microbiologist and former lab director of the viral disease branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, told The Epoch Times that it was very risky for China to roll out its inactivated vaccines prematurely because all vaccines the country has developed are still in clinical trial.

Dr. Mei-Shang Ho, an epidemiologist at Taiwan's Institute of Biomedical Sciences under Academia Sinica in Taipei, told the publication about the problems of inactivated vaccines. First, it is a risky process to successfully cultivate larger viruses, he said. Second, the inactivation process is complicated and it could cause active viruses left in the human body to reproduce, thus causing greater harm to people’s health. A major concern is how to reduce the impact of chemicals upon the body during the process of inactivation.

Dr. Ho was part of Taiwan’s SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) vaccine research in 2003 featuring inactivated whole virus vaccines. However, she found that patients had Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) after being vaccinated, which means that the vaccines amplified the infection or triggered harmful immunopathology. She said that Taiwan will never develop these whole virus vaccines; nor will it use them.

Currently in the United States, both Pfizer and Modena use "mRNA vaccine" technology, which ensures that no complete active virus will enter the human body, but the vaccine is more difficult to develop and needs a longer clinical period, according to Lin.

Chinese dissident and political activist Yuan Hongbing told The Epoch Times that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not deal with the science behind developing vaccines.

"In essence, they treat it as a political task [to fulfill]," he said.

Frank Yue is a Canada-based journalist for The Epoch Times who covers China-related news. He also holds an M.A. in English language and literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, China.