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So What is the “Sinopharm” Vaccine and Should you Take it?

This is a COVID 19 vaccine made by the Chinese state company “ Sinopharm”. It’s real name is BBIBP-Cor V. It is not to be mixed up with other commonly exported Chinese COVID 19 vaccine called the “Sinovac” vaccine.

Does it Work?

Trials by the same state owned manufacturer have given it an efficacy rate of 79%. On May 7th the WHO approved it for emergency use in people over age 18, and claimed an efficacy estimate of 78.1%. I am not sure what if any additional tests they have done on it. They did state that it had not been tried in very many people over the age of 60, but they have no reason to believe that it will not work in these age groups also. Research as yet, has not been published in peer reviewed journals.

How does it work? 

They basically take dead coronavirus that cannot make you sick, and cannot replicate and use it to trick your immune system into making antibodies and memory T cells to it. That way, when you meet the virus for real, your immune system will remember it and mobilize its army before the virus has time to make you ill. This is a very traditional way of making vaccines, and unlike the MRNA vaccines like the Pfizer vaccine, is not new.

How many doses is it? 

2 doses and it can be stored in the fridge.

What are the likely side effects?

Similar to all vaccines, the most common side effects are a slightly sore arm the next day; tiredness, headache and mild fever. All vaccines carry a risk of allergic reaction but there is no reason to think this risk might be higher for this vaccine.

How many people have had it so far? 

There have been 65 million doses given so far. It has been used by the following countries: UAE, Peru, Dubai, Hungary, Egypt

It is not to be mixed up with another privately made Chinese vaccine called SinoVac which has not had such good results. In Brazil and Chile, Sinovac has been estimated to have an efficacy rate slightly above 50%, prompting consideration of a 3 dose vaccine. 

Do I think you should take it? 

Well, as it is a traditional type of vaccine and the WHO tells us it works, then, in the absence of another choice, then yes, I do.

Why? Because the longer we have un vaccinated people, the more chances the virus has to spread; the more it spreads the greater the chance of mutations. So we have to use what we have, as fast as we can. This is an emergency. We cannot reject the life-raft we have, hoping for a better one to come along, because by then it may be too late. 

In the end, I suspect the World will benefit from having many different COVID 19 vaccines, with different advantages and disadvantages, as like, with the virus itself, our ability to react to its mutations depends on the availability of different choices and diversity. Natural selection depends on diversity and therefore so must our arsenal of vaccines.