A health worker shows a vial of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine in Colombo Photo: AFP

South Asian nations turn to China, Russia for vaccine help


Sri Lanka began injecting pregnant women with a Chinese coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday and Nepal resumed inoculations with a China-made jab as India's neighbors turn to Beijing and Moscow for help with supplies.

Nepal halted inoculations at the end of May after its stock of AstraZeneca shots and Chinese Sinopharm jabs ran short.

The program resumed on Tuesday after a million more Sinopharm doses arrived from China, the only country that has so far responded to its appeals for help.

India had previously supplied Nepal with the AstraZeneca vaccine from its manufacturer Serum Institute but in March froze vaccine exports as infections soared domestically.

"Nepal has sent requests to many countries including both neighbors, the U.S., Russia and other countries but no additional vaccine has arrived yet," health ministry official Samir Kumar Adhikari told AFP.

Barely two percent of the country's people are fully vaccinated.

Around 1.3 million people received one AstraZeneca dose in March but have since been unable to get a second.

Sri Lanka meanwhile has been aggressively rolling out China's Sinopharm jab after receiving two million doses in the past week.

On Wednesday, the program was opened to pregnant women.

The island, in the middle of a ferocious third wave of infections, announced last month it was also buying 13 million Sputnik V vaccines from Russia.

The head of Sri Lanka's COVID-19 response, army chief Shavendra Silva, said Wednesday that Colombo hopes to vaccinate the entire adult population by early next year.

The country has also asked Japan for 600,000 AstraZeneca jabs so it can offer a second dose to people who received a first shot, the president's office said Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the region, Bangladesh has been giving only second doses of the AstraZeneca shot since late April as supplies dwindle.

Health minister Zahid Maleque last month said the country wants to buy 50 million doses from Sinopharm.

It also wants to buy five million Sputnik doses, foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen said this week after meeting the Russian ambassador.

Momen said his country has sought two million AstraZeneca doses from the United States, which has announced it plans to export 80 million vaccine doses around the world.

A Pfizer consignment also reached Dhaka last week under the Covax initiative, a program backed by the World Health Organization to distribute vaccines to poorer nations.

India has not said when exports might resume. On Tuesday it said it had ordered 440 million doses from Serum and local producer Bharat Biotech for use in India.

It has also made an advance order for 300 million doses of a vaccine -- yet to be approved -- made by Hyderabad-based Biological E.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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As long as they don’t ask for Japan for help, they’ll be ok. Japan can’t even help itself.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

China? Russia? Sure, they'll help, but not in ways those countries expect.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

All the vaccines appear to drastically reduce the need for hospitalization, so something is better than nothing.

However, the Russian and Chinese vaccines are proving to be less effective at preventing the disease than the others on the market and the SinoVac protection drastically drops after 6 months. https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/05/efficacy-of-chinese-vaccines-is-not-high-officials-back-3rd-dose/

Gao, speaking at a conference in Chengdu, said that Beijing was “formally considering” possibilities to “solve the problem that the efficacy of the existing vaccines is not high.” Those possibilities included altering individual doses or increasing the number of doses people receive.

The comments were quickly censored on Chinese social media, the Post reported at the time.

Sure, these might cost only $3/ea, but if they aren't good for multiple years, then re-re-re-vaccination looks to be required.

The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), appear to provide lifetime protection in the recent studies for people who got the virus, then also were vaccinated. At the next exposure, antibodies against COVID spike just like they do for other viral infections which are known to be 1-time diseases.

I'd like for the US to help Nepal, but there are lots of western hemisphere nations which also need help from the US. Peru, Bolivia, Honduras, Paraguay come to mind. I feel bad for Chile and Brazil and Argentina, since they accepted the Chinese vaccines in desperation. Hopefully, they will be protected from the most severe cases.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), appear to provide lifetime protection in the recent studies for people who got the virus"

Yep, that must be why Pfizer CEO just talked about the need for a " booster " after 12 months. You can bet big pharma will want this to become an annual shot , just like influenza.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Modi's 'vaccine diplomacy' failed.

Claimed credit for exporting 66 million doses, even though only about 10 million were donations. 20 million were meant for COVAX and the rest were commercial exports.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yep, that must be why Pfizer CEO just talked about the need for a " booster " after 12 months. You can bet big pharma will want this to become an annual shot , just like influenza.

Here's a reference: https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/good-news-mild-covid-19-induces-lasting-antibody-protection/ The looked at bone marrow, where white blood cells are made.

Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Such cells could persist for a lifetime, churning out antibodies all the while.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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