Thailand will use AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as a second dose for those who received a first dose of China’s Sinovac shot after hundreds of fully vaccinated medical workers caught the disease, the country’s health minister announced Monday, marking another country to move away from the Chinese-made shot as concerns over its efficacy continue to grow.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the plan “is to improve protection against the Delta variant and build a high level of immunity against the disease,” Reuters reported.
Medical workers who have already been fully vaccinated with Sinovac will also be offered an mRNA vaccine—which includes shots from Pfizer and Moderna—to boost their immunity.
The decision comes a day after the health ministry announced that hundreds of fully vaccinated medical workers who were given Sinovac became infected with Covid-19, a similar situation to reports in Indonesia in mid-June.
One nurse has died and another medical worker is in critical condition, the ministry said.
The incidents add to escalating concerns over the efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines, especially with the infectious Delta variant, as fierce outbreaks tear through some of the world’s most vaccinated nations using the shots and relatively unvaccinated countries refuse shipments of them.
Thai authorities placed Bangkok under strict lockdown Monday in an attempt to contain surges of Covid-19 driven in part by the infectious Delta variant, one of several countries in the region battling deadly surges. Thailand’s vaccination campaign initially made use of China’s Sinovac vaccine, later rolling out the AstraZeneca shot. The vaccines have become a key foreign policy tool for China, which staunchly defends their quality and efficacy and rolled them out long before they had gone through late stage clinical trials. While infections are to be expected even in fully vaccinated people—none on the market are completely capable of preventing disease—the relatively low efficacy of the Sinovac shot leaves more vulnerable to infection, and though those getting sick are less likely to die or get seriously unwell they are at risk of developing debilitating long Covid. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing results from Chile’s use of the vaccine, suggested the vaccine was “highly effective in protecting against severe disease and death.” The data was not, however, sufficient to estimate how effective it might be against variants like Delta, which are known to be more resistant to vaccines.
618. That’s how many fully vaccinated medical staff were infected with Covid-19 between April and July in Thailand, the health ministry said. More than 677,000 had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac.
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