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WHO experts say Chinese shots show ‘safety,’ but data lacking

A staff member inspects syringes of COVID-19 inactivated vaccine products at a packaging plant of the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., Ltd, a unit of state-owned Sinopharm in Beijing, December 25, 2020. (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)
A staff member inspects syringes of COVID-19 inactivated vaccine products at a packaging plant of the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., Ltd, a unit of state-owned Sinopharm in Beijing, December 25, 2020. (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)

WHO vaccine experts say that an interim analysis of clinical trial data from two Chinese Covid-19 vaccines showed they demonstrated “safety and good efficacy,” but that more data was needed.

The Chinese firms Sinovac and Sinopharm, whose Covid shots are already being used in several countries, have submitted data in applications for the World Health Organization’s emergency use listing (EUL) green light.

The UN health agency’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) says it had reviewed the data provided so far, and that both vaccines “demonstrated safety and good efficacy against symptomatic Covid-19 disease.”

However, it warns, “both vaccines lacked data in older age groups and in persons with co-morbidities,” meaning other medical conditions.

“Post-introduction vaccine effectiveness and safety studies will be needed to address the impact on those sub-populations,” SAGE says in a list of highlights published after a meeting last week to discuss developments on vaccines against a range of diseases.

The two vaccines are among four homegrown ones that have been approved by Chinese regulators so far, but SAGE pointed out that neither had yet received authorization by what the WHO considers “a stringent regulatory authority.”

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