Can we trust Chinese vaccine?

A backlash abroad over China’s vaccines

Can we trust Chinese vaccines? Some have doubts:
Writes NYT 26 January 2021:
The full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/25/business/china-covid-19-vaccine-backlash.html

China’s coronavirus vaccines were supposed to showcase the country’s scientific prowess and generosity. Instead, in some places, they have set off a backlash.
Delays, inconsistent data, spotty disclosures and the country’s attacks on Western rivals have marred an effort by Beijing to portray itself as a leader in global health. Recent studies showing that the one of the vaccines has an efficacy rate of just over 50 percent — much lower than earlier claimed — have caused some concern. (*)
Governments in Malaysia and Singapore are now having to reassure their citizens the vaccines are safe, and Philippine lawmakers are criticizing the government’s decision to purchase the vaccine made by Sinovac, a Chinese company. Sinopharm, a state-owned vaccine maker, and Sinovac have said they can produce up to two billion doses this year.
Details: Officials in Brazil and Turkey have complained that Chinese companies have been slow to ship the doses. At least 24 countries signed deals with Chinese vaccine companies after they were pushed out of the market for Moderna and Pfizer jabs by richer countries.
China’s response: The state news media started a misinformation campaign against the American vaccines, questioning their safety. Their videos have been shared by the U.S. anti-vaccine movement.

 (*) What I understand: this report from Instituto Butantã in Brazil is based on a different method than the usual way to test efficacy so it should not be compared to other results.

My remarks

The Chinese vaccines have been used since July 2020, see my LinkedIn post and SCMP:
“As I reported earlier… I would trust the Chinese vaccine, not the Russian one: China already using COVID-19 vaccine candidate on key workers, official says”
https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3098505/coronavirus-china-has-been-using-covid-19-vaccine-candidate-key
https://www.linkedin.com/posts/gvankerckhove_china-already-using-covid-19-vaccine-candidate-activity-6703509130927329280–mVz

As far as I know, there have been no serious adverse reactions. Even if the government covered up the bad news I believe bad news would have leaked out one way or other.
The approach in China for the vaccination program is radically different from the West where old people (e.g. above 80 in some cases) and people with underlying health issues may have priorities. Gradually in the West the age limit has been lowered.
In China, in the first phase of the program: only for people aged 18-59 and priority for special categories such as supermarkets, restaurant, cold storage workers, health care workers and other. People with underlying health issues and pregnant women: no.
According to China Daily, after Chinese New Year the program might be extended to all.
At some point is was said that the first phase was not for foreigners but what I know foreigners in the right categories did receive the vaccine.

Why the difference?

There are many questions raised with the Chinese approach, and some comment:
– China is not sure about the safety of the vaccine for the categories excluded from the vaccination.
– Why is China exporting the vaccine to many countries where it is used for all people while in China there are restrictions?
– Why is China exporting massively the vaccine while limiting the vaccination inside China? Why this “priority”?

Overview of current vaccines

See this article:
How the coronavirus vaccines compare and who can get them

  • The race to carry out the biggest inoculation programme in history has begun, with six products approved and more to follow
  • What are some of the differences between the various vaccines and how many doses have been ordered around the world?

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3119150/how-covid-19-vaccines-compare-and-who-can-get-them

See the tables:

Do note that normally the vaccination in China is 2 doses with 2 weeks interval. As for efficacy rate, the figure is contested as noted already.

Vaccines: deliveries delayed

While currently many Western countries find out the promised deliveries are running behind schedule and the EU is complaining to the manufacturers, China does not clarify if their production capacity can meet the expectations of the population, and when and how older people and  foreigners will be able to get it.
Due to Chinese regulations, none of the overseas vaccines can be used in China as none has been approved. Foreigners could theoretically get in in their embassy but no any embassy has mentioned this possibility. Except for the Belgian embassy who seems to say “it won’t happen”.

Present situation

As far as I understand vaccination is now available to more citizens like in Beijing, but still with the restriction: only for 18 to 59 years old, not for pregnant women, people with “health issues”, …

See here the official Chinese announcement for our compound in the Worker’s Stadium area.

The next/present big question:
“5 things you need to know about post-vaccine travel”
See this article from TimeOutBeijing 26 January 2021:
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/MRqtuZg2DWIk2-8NwJ5_Ug

In my case, I can only wait… wait… being over 59 and a foreigner.

2020 is a tough year

My Jenny Lou is closed

2020 is a tough year for many businesses in Beijing, too many to mention. Some are simply the victim of the wave of destruction in Beijing, in particular in my gongti area (Worker’s Stadium), for others it is the impact of COVID-19.

My favorite Jenny Lou decided to close, it was in front of Buona Bocca and Mala Bocca (Xindong Lu, the small street of Jiamei Dental), see how it looked like in February 2020. Reason: too few foreign customers… as many cannot be back.

Another victim is Cafe de la Poste, was in operation for some 15 years.

Gongti destruction

As posted earlier, most within the gongti area is to be razed.

See here an update with the buildings on the north side being demolished, the coffeeshop also marked “to destroy”, Superlife biting the dust and our beloved Legend Beer and Laburnum Thai Restaurant being smashed to pieces. The whole gongti area is becoming very flat…

See the date of the picture.
It seems some buildings will be spared (IQIYI and the “hotel”) but who knows… Also the fate of (formerly called) Gongti Yibai (Gongti 100 see how it was originally https://www.frommers.com/destinations/beijing/active-pursuits) remains unclear but Club One Third is still making a mess of the traffic in the street till early morning hours.

 

Rotary Nuertingen Kirchheim Teck

ZOOM

My good friend Eli Khoury who worked a few years in Beijing is now the president of Rotary Nuertingen Kirchheim Teck Club in Germany. We miss him and his lovely family.
The club: https://nuertingen-kirchheim-teck.rotary.de
He invited me to give a talk about Beijing using ZOOM. I finally found a way to do it so that my face is not sun-burnt red – the camera of my iMac desktop sucks. The iPhone is much better, and with some extra lights it looks really so much friendlier.

Topic of the E-Meeting

“Surviving Beijing during the pandemic. What’s next for the economy?”

Time was 13:20 CET / 19:20 Beijing time on 16 September 2020 and the talk with Q&A took some 40 minutes. I gave an overview on how the COVID-19 epidemic started and how Beijing (and China) handled the fight against the virus, with the today result it is the safest place to be for the virus. I explained how life was during the “lockdown” – that was not really a lockdown as in other countries, while somehow draconian. I survived it very well. Now Beijing is slowly back to “normal” but still with some restrictions.

I also talked about the impact on the economy and what we can expect in the near future.
I also explained there is a lot of fake news, such as the story that China “made the virus by purpose”. And that it is clear another virus of the same kind can be expected in the future; to ward it off, China is clamping down on the trade of wild animals and improving the sanitary conditions of the “wet markets” where vegetables, fish, meat and so much more is sold.

Old China Hands Lunch 5 June

Back again

Old China Hands Lunch 5 June marked our second lunch after the virus outbreak. Attendance was still pretty modest for several reasons: we were 17. All in all not too bad.
I have tried to have an idea about how many of our members are blocked abroad and unable to return “home”. Well, it is not a nice picture with close to 30 of our usual attendants unable to return; probably there are more, some did not yet reply to me. As I mentioned earlier, I expect many to give up on China for good, with their business, family life and social life wrecked. Chinese authorities couldn’t care less and there is no end in sight for the misery. China is losing many friends, that’s for sure. Really sad.

 

See the dishes I chose. The restaurant is now also well known for its collection of fresh flowers, done by Susan.

Next lunch

Tentatively planned for Friday 3 July.
All of Morel’s Restaurant staff has been tested for the virus and the restaurant is regularly checked by the hygiene department. As the restaurant observes all regulations strictly, they are one of the locations still allowed to operate.
I also must stress again to our members that the restaurant is giving us a very special deal and they should respect that. You are expected to pay for any extras. If you don’t like it, you go somewhere else.

Old China Hands Lunch is back

A modest restart

Old China Hands Lunch is back after a 3 months “pause”. As 1 May was the first Friday of the month we decided to do it on Friday 8 May, giving us also more time to evaluate the “situation”.
I asked our members for an update on their situation and sadly many of our regulars are stuck outside of China as they are not allowed to return to China. They are in UK, USA, Australia, Thailand, Germany, name it. It does not look good when they could return, I think not before October in the best case.
That is obviously dramatic as many have office and home here with all their belongings. Their business is, the least to say, seriously affected.
Some say they will leave China for good. I can’t blame them. China and in particular Beijing is turning against foreigners and racism and xenophobia pop up regularly.
China for sure knows how to turn friends into enemies. And they couldn’t care less.

Our lunch

We were exactly 16 and I insisted on all observing the rules of social distancing, 4 per table, temperature check etc.
Some were still too scared to “mingle”, some simply freaked out. Oh well.

Anyway who came was pretty happy and Morel’s Restaurant served us well.
I am planning the next lunch for Friday 5 June.