The efficacy of Chinese Covid-19 vaccines is "not high" and authorities are weighing options to bolster protection, China's top disease control official has said.
"The protection rates of existing vaccines are not high," Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a conference in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Saturday.
He listed two options to solve the problem: one is to increase the number of doses, or adjust the dosage or interval between shots; the other is to mix vaccines developed from different technologies.
Gao's remarks are a rare public admission from the country's top health official that the efficacy of China's coronavirus vaccines is not ideal -- and improvements are needed to boost protection.
Danger to credibility: China has positioned itself as a leader in vaccine development and distribution, promoting and supplying its vaccines to countries all over the globe. But the relatively low efficacy rate of its vaccines could hamper credibility and dent Beijing's so-called vaccine diplomacy.
The two pharmaceutical firms that supply the majority of Chinese Covid-19 vaccines to the world have not published comprehensive clinical trial data in medical journals. But interim results announced by the companies show their efficacy falls far behind the new type of vaccines developed in the West that use mRNA to trigger an immune response.
Comments walked back: As Gao's comments gained traction on social media and made international headlines, Chinese censors quickly scrubbed discussions online, and state media swiftly put out an interview with Gao to walk back his comments.
Global Times, a state-run nationalist tabloid, quoted Gao as saying reports about his admission were "a complete misunderstanding."
"The protection rates of all vaccines in the world are sometimes high, and sometimes low. How to improve their efficacy is a question that needs to be considered by scientists around the world," Gao was quoted as saying.
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