Instead, it drew a firestorm of criticism against Duterte — for choosing a vaccine not yet approved by the country’s regulators.
Duterte’s about-face on the Sinopharm shots highlights the regulatory roadblock faced by Chinese vaccines in the absence of an emergency use approval from the World Health Organization (WHO), even though the shots have been approved for use in dozens of countries.
An endorsement from WHO may finally boost confidence in the Chinese vaccines, which have long faced concerns about efficacy rates and a lack of transparency regarding clinical trial data.
The Sinopharm and Sinovac shots are both inactivated vaccines, which are lower in efficacy than the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. And unlike their Western counterparts, the two Chinese companies have not released full data of their last stage clinical trials conducted around the globe, drawing criticism from scientists and health experts.
According to Sinopharm and Sinovac, their vaccines received different efficacy results in trials conducted in different countries, but they all exceeded WHO’s 50% efficacy threshold for emergency use approval.
Their approval could be timely for COVAX, the global initiative backed by WHO to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. In recent weeks, it has faced a severe shortage of supplies from India, which halted export of the AstraZeneca vaccine amid its Covid-19 crisis.
Because COVAX can only distribute vaccines approved by WHO, as of now, Chinese vaccines have not been included in its portfolio. It instead has to rely on Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Covishield from the Serum Institute of India, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna, which are all in high demand.
Instead, China has been making its own donations of vaccines via bilateral agreements with individual countries, including the Philippines — an effort experts say is guided more by China’s strategic interests than the needs of the most-vulnerable countries.
The approval from WHO will no doubt boost Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy. But more importantly, it should help provide better protection against Covid-19 to countries in greatest need.
- Volunteer teams are answering Covid SOS calls from sick and dying Indians to provide oxygen supplies, ventilators, hospital beds.
- China is unhappy with Australia, but it can’t break its dependency on the country’s iron ore.
- Covid fears are spreading on Mount Everest, as climbers risk infection to reach the top of the world.
- Meanwhile in Hong Kong, jailed activist Joshua Wong got sentenced to 10 months for his involvement in an unauthorized rally to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre last year.
The business of China: Cinemas are showing old propaganda movies. Will Hollywood lose out?
Chinese moviegoers revolted last month after major ticketing sites around the country quietly stopped promoting showings for re-releases of the three “The Lord of the Rings” movies. At the same time the movies vanished, decades-old films that promoted the Party and which were favored by regulators flooded theater schedules.
The China Film Administration has ordered theaters to screen at least two old movies per week through the end of the year, to honor the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding.
The China Film Administration hasn’t put out a public statements calling for Hollywood movies to be removed from theater schedules, but industry analysts and movie fans were quick to blame the regulators, who they believed to be the obvious culprits. Many fans criticized the decision on social media and even pledged not to go to cinemas.
And while “The Lord of the Rings” films eventually returned to theaters, analysts point out that the dust-up illustrates some major challenges that face Beijing as it tries to instill party loyalty among young people and bolster national industries, such as film production.
— By Laura He
Quoted and noted
“We’ve always understood the one system, two countries arrangement and we will continue to follow our policies there … One country, two systems, I should say.”
Per the report, global emissions reached 52 gigatons of CO2-equivalent in 2019, an increase of 11.4% over the past decade. Of that, China contributed to 27% of total global emissions, more than double that of the US — the second highest emitter — at 11%. India came in third, at 6.6% of global emissions, ahead of the European Union.
However, China still has a way to go before it catches up with the total amount of carbon that has been spewed into the atmosphere by developed nations. The report notes that “since 1750, members of the OECD bloc have emitted four times more CO2 on a cumulative basis than China.”
Picture of the day
Welcome back: A couple hug outside Beijing’s railway station on the last day of the Labor Day holiday on May 5, 2021. China is getting fully back to work Friday.