Recently, 26 members of the Thai national women’s volleyball team tested positive after receiving injections of Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines, which led to the team withdrawing from the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2021.
Thailand has purchased a large amount of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines and withdrawn its team from the VNL, which will be held in Italy from May 25 to June 19. The Thai women’s volleyball team currently ranks 15th in the world.
All the members and staff of the women’s volleyball team received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine made by Chinese state-owned company Sinovac on April 29.
On May 12, 22 players and 4 staffers tested positive for COVID-19 in a pre-match test and were sent to the hospital for observation and treatment.
The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) has not barred the team from participating in the world league, and is looking into the cases.
“We would like to apologize to all the fans nationwide, and will take care of the affected athletes and staffers as though they are members of our family,” the Thai Volleyball Association said in a statement.
On May 14, the FIVB granted Thailand special permission to change its roster for the upcoming tournament. Currently, the Thai team is testing again and drafting more players in order to put together a team to participate in the VNL.
A local doctor pointed out that according to a Chilean trial study, the protection rate of the Chinese vaccine was only 16 percent effective after the first injection after 2 weeks, and 2 weeks after the second injection it increased to 67 percent. By contrast, vaccines made by other countries have a protection rate of 60 to 70 percent within 3 weeks after the first injection and increases to 70 to 75 percent within 2 weeks after the second injection. The doctor also reminded that there is no vaccine that has a protection rate of 100 percent against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
The Chinese regime has been pushing a “vaccine diplomacy” strategy internationally to expand its geopolitical influence. Southeast Asian countries that are close neighbors to China have felt the effects first.
Earlier this year, the Thai government ordered 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines made by Chinese state-owned company Sinovac, which have been administered to more than 600,000 people nationwide. In March, despite the serious side effects of the Chinese vaccines being reported in Thailand, such as stroke, the Thai government stuck with the Chinese vaccines. It has ordered an additional 1.5 million doses from the Chinese company.
In early May, the president of another Southeast Asian country, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, asked China to take back its donation of 1,000 vaccines developed by Sinopharm, citing they are not approved for the public. A territorial dispute over regions of the South China Sea between China and the Philippines has also been escalating in recent months.