KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Rising concerns that Chinese vaccines may not be as effective against new and more infectious Covid-19 variants are triggering some countries to consider booster doses to protect health workers inoculated with Sinovac.
The Thai government has confirmed a Reuters report Monday of a leaked document revealing that a committee last week discussed a third shot, with local health officials calling for frontline medical staff to be given a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot.
In Indonesia, the death of 10 doctors who had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac this month, has prompted health experts to consider an alternative third dose to boost immunity.
About 90 per cent of Indonesia’s 160,000 doctors have been vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing figures provided by the Indonesian Medical Association’s (IMA) Covid-19 mitigation group.
The IMA group’s latest figures, over a five-month period, found at least 20 doctors who were fully inoculated with Sinovac’s vaccine had died from Covid-19, accounting for more than a fifth of total fatalities among doctors during that period.
“There’s a lot of doctors and medical workers who have been vaccinated twice but endured medium and severe symptoms, or even died,” Slamet Budiarto, deputy chief of the IMA, told parliament on Monday, as quoted by Reuters.
Meanwhile, Indonesian epidemiologist Dicky Budiman said while breakthrough infections of vaccinated people were to be expected, the deaths of health workers were not acceptable, which led to the vaccine rethink.
“Those deaths show there is something wrong. This could be a combination of reduced efficacy of the vaccine with poor personal protection equipment or inadequate infection control. We have to find a solution for this,” he said, as reported by the Australian Financial Review.
In Singapore, those received Sinovac vaccination are omitted from the national vaccination tally, with the government saying there is still little data on the vaccine’s efficacy against Covid-19 variants of concern.
Singapore’s Health Ministry director of medical services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak said on Wednesday this is “to better reflect the efforts we’re taking within our national vaccination programme to get the population vaccinated and to achieve the milestones”.
As of July 3, a total of 17,296 people in Singapore had received one dose of the Sinovac vaccine, according to figures provided by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in a written response to a parliamentary question.
“But once we reach an even higher level of vaccine coverage, we will have stronger herd protection, which means this vaccine effectiveness may be less of a factor,” he said, as reported by Channel News Asia (CNA).