Comments made by China's top disease control official on Saturday are attracting attention, and not for good reason. Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the four Chinese COVID-19 vaccines currently in use both locally and around the world "don't have very high rates of protection" and that the country was looking at ways to "optimize" its vaccination process by considering things like number or size of the doses or even mixing different COVID vaccines. On Sunday Gao backpedaled, saying his comments had been misinterpreted and that he was speaking generally, saying the question of how to increase the efficacy of all COVID vaccines should be pursued in an ongoing manner around the globe.
To wit: "The protection rates of all vaccines in the world are sometimes high, and sometimes low," Gao said. "How to improve their efficacy is a question that needs to be considered by scientists around the world." The BBC reports China has shared little data regarding the efficacy of its vaccines, which have been approved for use in nearly a third of the world's countries. But Brazil reported that it found the Sinovac vaccine CoronaVac to have an efficacy rate of around 50.4% in trials. And the New York Times notes that the United Arab Emirates distributor who is handling vaccines from China's Sinopharm said a "very small number" of people who were "not really responsive" to the vaccine would be offered the opportunity to receive a third dose. The AP notes British scientists are looking at possibly combining the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. ("It is not the best vaccine in the world," said a Brazilian microbiologist of CoronaVac.)