Coronavirus Vaccines

Sinovac shot effective, Indonesia study says

Chinese vaccine led to drastic fall in deaths, hospitalisations among healthcare workers

A health worker in Indonesia with a vial of the Sinovac vaccine. Indonesia tracked health workers in Jakarta for 28 days after they got their second dose and found the vaccine protected 100 per cent of them from death and 96 per cent from hospitalisa
A health worker in Indonesia with a vial of the Sinovac vaccine. Indonesia tracked health workers in Jakarta for 28 days after they got their second dose and found the vaccine protected 100 per cent of them from death and 96 per cent from hospitalisation as soon as seven days after.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JAKARTA • Sinovac Biotech's vaccine is effective against Covid-19 among health workers in Indonesia, researchers there said in what could be an encouraging sign for the dozens of developing countries reliant on the controversial Chinese shot, which did worse than Western vaccines in clinical trials.

Indonesia tracked health workers in its capital Jakarta for 28 days after they got their second dose and found the vaccine protected 100 per cent of them from death and 96 per cent from hospitalisation as soon as seven days after.

The findings were based on data from the 120,000 healthcare workers who received the vaccine between January and March, lead researcher and health official Pandji Dhewantara said yesterday.

Phase 3 trials of the vaccine, called CoronaVac, have produced varying results globally, but Mr Pandji said the study found it also prevented symptomatic Covid-19 in 94 per cent of the group.

The results go beyond what were measured in the shot's numerous clinical trials, though it is unclear if the workers were screened to detect asymptomatic carriers.

"We see a very, very drastic drop in hospitalisations and deaths among medical workers," Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said.

It is not known what strain of the coronavirus Sinovac's shot worked against in Indonesia, but the country has not flagged any outbreaks driven by variants of concern.

The findings add to signs out of Brazil that the Sinovac vaccine is more effective than it proved in the testing phase, which was beset by divergent efficacy rates and questions over data transparency.

Results from its biggest Phase 3 trial in Brazil put the efficacy of CoronaVac at just above 50 per cent, the lowest among all first-generation Covid-19 vaccines.

The mRNA shot developed by BioNTech and Pfizer has been shown to be over 90 per cent effective in preventing transmission in Israel.

CoronaVac is efficacious in preventing Covid-19 in adults under 60, but some quality data on the risk of serious adverse effects was lacking, World Health Organisation experts found.

Indonesia has pushed hard to shore up vaccine deals to inoculate its large population but so far has largely relied on the Chinese vaccine due to global supply issues.

Almost nine million people have been fully inoculated so far, according to the health ministry, with Indonesia aiming to vaccinate 181 million people by next January.

Separately, data from the Indonesian Medical Association showed the number of doctors dying from Covid-19 has dropped significantly since the country's vaccine roll-out began this year.

In January, 64 doctors died due to the disease, the highest rate since the start of the pandemic, but that figure halved in February and dropped to eight last month.

Indonesia has suffered the highest number of cases and deaths in South-east Asia, with more than 1.7 million confirmed infections and 45,090 deaths, with the nation's healthcare workers hit hard.

The disease has claimed the lives of at least 900 Indonesian healthcare workers, according to Lapor-Covid-19, an independent coronavirus data initiative.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2021, with the headline 'Sinovac shot effective, Indonesia study says'. Subscribe