A US shipment of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa comes as the world faces an intensifying impact from the virulent Delta strain of the coronavirus Photo: AFP/File

BioNTech produces 10 times more antibodies than China's Sinovac: study


People who received BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine had ten times the amount of antibodies than those given China's Sinovac, a Hong Kong study has shown, adding to growing data on different jabs' effectiveness.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) research, based on a study of 1,442 healthcare workers, was published in Lancet Microbe last week.

Researchers said antibodies are not the only measure of a vaccine's success at fighting a particular disease.

But they warned that "the difference in concentrations of neutralising antibodies identified in our study could translate into substantial differences in vaccine effectiveness".

Those who received Sinovac had "similar or lower" levels of antibodies to those seen in patients who caught and successfully fought off the disease.

The study adds to the growing body of evidence that vaccines using pioneering mRNA technology -- such as BioNTech and Moderna -- offer better protection against the coronavirus and its variants that those developed by more traditional methods such as using inactivated virus parts.

Traditional vaccines are cheaper to produce and less complicated to transport and store, making them a vital tool for fighting the pandemic in less wealthy countries.

Epidemiologist Ben Cowling, one of the report's authors, said people should still get vaccinated with Sinovac if there was no other option because some protection was always better than none.

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," he told AFP. "It is clearly better to go and get vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine than to wait and not get vaccinated. Many, many lives have been saved by the inactivated vaccine."

The researchers said their data suggested "alternative strategies" such as earlier booster shots might be needed to increase protection for those who have received Sinovac.

Cowling said when to give booster shots would be the next phase of their ongoing studies.

"The priority would be boosters for people who received Sinovac while boosters for people who initially received BioNTech might not be so urgent," he said.

Hong Kong has been a world leader in studying coronaviruses ever since a SARS outbreak which began in southern China swept through the city in 2003.

The city currently offers both German-made BioNTech shots and Sinovac.

Despite ample supplies, take-up has been slow, with only 28 percent of the city's 7.5 million residents fully vaccinated with two shots.

So far some 2.6 million BioNTech doses have been administered compared to 1.8 million Sinovac shots.

The rollout has been caught up in Hong Kong's febrile politics, as China cracks down on dissent in the city in response to huge and often violent democracy protests two years ago.

At the start of the vaccination campaign Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leaders very visibly and near unanimously opted for Sinovac.

One doctor's clinic that recommended BioNTech over Sinovac was kicked out of the city's vaccination program.

Many of the city's leading epidemiologists have gone with BioNTech, and said publicly that it is their preferred shot.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I spend a lot of time surfing the web, reading about what is going on. There have been multiple studies that have shown that the Chinese vaccine has an efficacy rate of less than 50%. It does not give me pleasure to cite that statistic, since it would be better for everyone if all the vaccines so far released had efficacy rates in the 90 percentile range, but we need to face the facts. The facts are that the Chinese vaccine has saved lives, but is not good enough to prevent a surge in Covid cases.

We have many relatives in Mexico, where many people got early shots of the Chinese vaccine. Today, the pandemic is swamping Mexico. Only 20+ percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and many of them with the Chinese vaccine, so it is as if only 11 or 12 percent got fully vaccinated. Besides that, Mexico followed Britain's example of emphasizing getting one shot into arms, instead of two. Even with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, one shot is better than getting the Chinese vaccine, but one shot gives far less protection than two.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Of course, with an efficacy of 40% or so that vaccine is of no real use. But on the other side we have here an interesting paradox, as the countries using it have less infection rates and less pandemic problems on average. It’s maybe a false conclusion or wrong causality, but it’s interesting anyway and surely worth some deeper digging, especially about which (other) factors might influence the occurrence of next waves and higher infection rates. I mean, there must be something still undetected what drives the pandemic again and again although health and medical systems are much more advanced, much better vaccines are in use and the vaccination percentage rates are also already quite high. I don’t have the money and resources to find out that alone, so it’s someone other’s turn. Go for it.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Of course, with an efficacy of 40% or so that vaccine is of no real use.

The point in the article is that definitely is of very real use, 40% protection is huge in comparison with no protection. Compared with the best vaccines available it comes well behind, but compared with not vaccinating it is still a much better option.

But on the other side we have here an interesting paradox, as the countries using it have less infection rates and less pandemic problems on average.

What makes you have that idea? As mentioned countries like Mexico and Brazil are using it and they have huge problems with the pandemic.

There is no mystery, the pathogen has a very high rate of transmission which is why huge efforts are necessary to stop it without unnecessary deaths, that is what pathogens are adapted to do, no real need of anything above a computer and access to internet to find out this.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

But since the Chinese vaccine does not only target one protein, it is expected to be less affected by current and future variants.

Also, it appears that the actual effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines is not as high as advertised.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

All sources that I have read or heard all say that the Chinese vac is far less effective than any of the others.


1 ( +3 / -2 )

But since the Chinese vaccine does not only target one protein, it is expected to be less affected by current and future variants.

Not really, it is already less efficient than other vaccines so reducing its efficacy further means it will become much less effective. Also since the only neutralizing activity identified is against the spike protein that still means all the other antibodies that the Sinovac vaccine can produce make no difference. By definition being non-neutralizing means the virion could be covered by them without affecting its ability to infect.

On the other hand those other antibodies increase the risk of recognizing something naturally present in the body, so it would not be surprising to find out it could produce problems because of autoimmunity.

Or more simply, the problem with Sinovac is that it make the body produce antibodies that are not useful and can become harmful.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I think the quality of most things coming out of China is about 40% compared to the west.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Serrana, SP, completa 16 dias sem mortes por Covid-19, apontam dados da Saúde

Brazilian city Serrana completes 16 days without deaths by Covid-19 after entire adult population got Sinovac shot

That is real word data.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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