A little over a week after Sinopharm nabbed the world’s first full approval from Chinese regulators on a 79% efficacy showing for its COVID-19 vax, fellow Chinese native Sinovac, using similar tech, has shown pretty much the same numbers.
In data out from a Brazilian phase 3 study of the so-called CoronaVac vaccine, the shot has shown to be 78% effective against COVID-19 while also giving total protection against severe cases of the disease.
As with Sinopharm’s vaccine, the hope is that this can be given to developing countries around the world. That 78%—still a high bar when flu vaccines are approved at just 50% efficacy—is, however, falling well below the 95% seen from mRNA rivals Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, which both have FDA emergency clearance.
Its vaccine can, however, be transported more easily and at much higher temperatures than Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines, which must be kept very cold—a factor that's proven to be a major logistical challenge, partly delaying optimistic immunization programs in the U.K. and the U.S. It’s also likely to be far less expensive.
Sinovac’s vaccine was approved for emergency use by Beijing in July.
AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford’s rival vaccine, which late last year grabbed an emergency authorization in the U.K., can also be stored at more normal refrigeration temperatures.
“It’s a great result,” said Luiz Carlos Dias, part of a COVID-19 task force of researchers at the University of Campinas in São Paulo state, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal. “If it can prevent severe cases, hospitalizations, deaths, it will help get us out of this pandemic.”
These data come several months after the biotech published data in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases from a phase 1/2 trial in 700 patients that, while not set up to assess efficacy, did show it could provide sufficient protection against SARS-CoV-02.
But, as with Sinopharm’s vaccine, there have been different percentages shown from different trials along with general criticism of the opacity coming from the data. Back in December, initial data out of Turkey from 1,300 people showed its vaccine to be just over 91% effective. Data can differ from trial to trial, though no formal explanation has been given.
Sinovac has also trod a difficult path in Brazil: One of its tests in the country was stopped amid a safety scare back in November, with the country’s president Jair Bolsonaro praising the stoppage. He has been a vocal critic of Chinese companies developing COVID-19 vaccines.
However, a report out by Reuters last month said Brazil’s federal government will in fact purchase 46 million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine.