PAHO Defends Sinopharm Vaccine Following Newspaper Article

(CMC) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has said that the Chinese-made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by its Emergency Use Listing after “rigorous evaluation by independent experts” as it sought to reassure the public about the efficacy of the vaccine.

The move by PAHO follows a front-page story in Trinidad’s Sunday Express newspaper which said it had utilised the services of a local laboratory “to conduct antibody titre tests to analyse the level of antibodies in persons who are fully vaccinated with the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines.

The paper said it funded the tests at TT$750 each and that on November 25, blood samples were taken from two 60-year-old females, one fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca, second dose on June 23 this year, and the other fully vaccinated with Sinopharm, second dose on June 28, 2021.

The Express said it spoke to internationally-recognised immunologist Dr Steven Myint, who is based in England and is a coronavirus expert who developed the very first corona vaccine 35 years ago. The article said Myint unequivocally said there is insufficient data on the Sinopharm vaccine and advised that the best vaccines to utilise are the mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna. The Express also shared that it spoke to three doctors who disclosed that the majority of the patients presented to them and who are symptomatic for COVID-19 are the unvaccinated and those who are vaccinated with Sinopharm.

The newspaper article has been criticised by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who said “this must be the worst piece of irresponsible journalism I have ever seen.

“In a pandemic, where thousands of doctors and many international agencies and hundreds of thousands of newspapers and other media entities are present and reporting, the Express has made the discovery as published, to undermine a vaccine which might very well be a victim of geopolitics,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

“Where is the science here? Who are the people responsible for this data set being published in this way? It’s not only embarrassing it is downright destructive and worrisome,” Rowley continued. “Who will be fired here? To attempt to undermine a nation’s vaccination program in a pandemic is nothing short of criminal.”

The Chinese Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago in a statement defended the vaccine, saying the conclusions of the Sunday Express newspaper were based on a “crude and amateurish study” with only four samples and is thus a complete farce.

“We are glad to see that the medical lab referred to in the report immediately issued a disclaimer against this report, emphasising that, “scientific analysis and opinions should be left for professionals and those qualified to do so and must be based on facts”.

The Embassy described the story as a “most irresponsible media report,” adding that the article blatantly ignored many world-recognised scientific research, distorted the facts, violated journalism ethics, created public panic and meant to undermine the resolve and actions of the Trinidad and Tobago people in their “brave battle” against the pandemic.

In its statement, PAHO said that updated recommendations were published on October 28 regarding the Sinopharm and “according to this document, Sinopharm has an efficacy rate of 79 per cent against symptomatic disease and 79 per cent against hospitalisation.

PAHO also said 69 countries have approved the use of the Sinopharm vaccine including the United Kingdom.

It said among the countries that recognise the Sinopharm vaccine as valid proof of vaccination are Austria, Australia, Cyprus, Canada, Finland Greece, Iceland, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.