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Chinese Vaccines Are Welcomed by Its Neighbors, WHY?




By Zhou Xin

On August 28, Sinopharm vaccine landed in Singapore. Vaccination appointments of the Chinese vaccine in many clinics were fully booked on the very first day. Some clinics even received more than 400 registrations of interest while they still had half a month to wait until receiving the vaccines. Earlier, Thailand’s Chulabhorn Royal Academy opened online registration for the first batch of Sinopharm vaccines. The number of people booking vaccination crashed the website in just 3 minutes. “Sinopharm Vaccine” went viral as it even topped Thailand’s Twitter trending list that day.

Why are Chinese vaccines so welcomed by Asian countries? It can be summarized as follows:

First, a quick and sufficient supply addresses the urgent needs. Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that “committed to building a global community of health for all, China is providing vaccines to the world, particularly fellow developing countries”. Chinese vaccines were the first batches of vaccines available to many neighboring countries. In early spring, when fellow neighboring countries were hit hard by the pandemic, the timely supply of Chinese vaccines provided hope and power to the fight against the pandemic. That’s why Presidents of the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Thailand and Laos went to the airport to receive vaccines from China. They expressed gratitudes to China on various occasions.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya said that at the critical juncture of Sri Lanka’s immunization program, certain countries cut off, delayed the vaccine supply to Sri Lanka, some offered little which could not solve the major problem. Only China and its vaccines could be trusted. Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said, “The best vaccine is the earliest one that can be administered.” Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health of Thailand, repeated that China provided vaccines to Thailand in spite of limited production and huge demand within China, which greatly alleviated Thailand’s urgent situation at that time.

Second, Chinese vaccines are Safe and effective. The safety and efficacy indicators of the Chinese vaccines exceed the standards set by the World Health Organization. Chinese vaccines have been proved providing effective protection in a wide range of people, even against the more infectious Delta variant.

Maldivian airline arrives back to the Maldives from China with vaccine donated to the Maldives

China’s inactivated vaccines have few side effects, with the rate of adverse reactions being only 0.006%. Accidents related to Chinese vaccines rarely occur. Heads of states or governments from Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos, Pakistan and other Asian countries received Chinese vaccine innoculations publicly, fully demonstrating their confidence in Chinese vaccines.

In the face of certain rumors against Sinovac vaccine, Health ministries of Malaysia and Thailand have confirmed with data that sinovac vaccines are as safe and effective as other brands’ in preventing serious illness and death caused by the Delta Variant. Mainstream medias in neighboring countries have also defended the name of Chinese vaccines. The Bangkok Post pointed out that certain figures discreditted Sinovac vaccine out of political reasons and commercial interests. Vietnam Plus applauded Sinopharm vaccine as being used on a large scale in many countries, including China, and proved to be effective, especially against the Delta Variant.

Third, Chinese vaccines are accessible and affordable. President Xi Jinping has pointed out, China must step up research and development of vaccines and related exchanges, and work harder to make the vaccines a global public good to improve their accessibility and affordability in developing countries. China and partner countries jointly launch the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation to promote fair international distribution of vaccines and build a global shield against the virus.

Since the introduction of Chinese vaccines, China has been taking concrete actions to fulfill the agreement and commitment. Affordable prices and few requirements for storage and transportation are outstanding merits of Chinese vaccines. Significant reduction of the economic burden enables countries to vaccinate more people at the same cost, thus achieving greater immunization coverage. Up to now, China has been donating vaccines to 105 countries, and exporting vaccines to over 60 countries. The total number has exceeded 990 million doses. China has also decided to donate 100 million USD to COVAX for distributing vaccines to developing countries.

China always promotes vaccine R&D, production and distribution with an open and cooperative attitude, and is willing to help developing countries to enhance their vaccine production capacity. Only in Asia, China has already conducted R&D and production cooperation with Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries. Chinese vaccines companies are supported to collaborate with foreign partners and help enhance their production capacity.

Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid meeting with Chinese counterpart Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi in Beijing.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, President Xi Jinping has actively advanced international vaccine cooperation at international arena and has shared Chinese wisdom and solution for winning the victory over the pandemic and building a community with a shared future for mankind. Chinese vaccines are safe, effective, accessible and affordable. They truly serve as people’s vaccines.

Although faced with the sudden and severe challenges posed by Covid-19, China and neighbouring countries have demonstrated even more solidarity through vaccine cooperation. Over day and night, across mountains and seas, the arrival of Chinese vaccines brought confidence and strength to neighboring countries in support of the anti-pandemic cooperation. China always pays attention to the needs of its neighbors, devotes to build a global community of health for all and honors its commitment by making vaccines a global public good, strengthening vaccine cooperation with neighbouring countries, helping each other and fighting together to win the victory over the pandemic.


Japan provides USD 8.6 million through IOM Sri Lanka and Maldives





The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with relevant ministries of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Government of Maldives (GoM) launched a regional project ‘Strengthening Capacity of Border Control for Responding to Infectious Diseases in Southwest Asia’ on 17 October 2022.

With a fund of USD 8.6 million, provided by the Government of Japan (GoJ), the project intends to strengthen overall border management capacities in Sri Lanka and the Republic of the Maldives to prevent the spread of infectious diseases that would otherwise impede the revitalization of human mobility.

The dramatic reduction in human mobility has been one of the most significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This had major economic and social impacts in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are heavily reliant upon income from international tourism, labour migration and business travel. The border closures and associated restrictions disrupted regular trade exchanges and impacted migration flows, as well as exposed border management agencies and cross-border communities to higher risks of infection.

Speaking on the timeliness of the project, H.E. MIZUKOSHI Hideaki, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka said that “as Sri Lanka has been actively attracting international tourists and expects to see an increase in the number of tourists in the future, strengthening border control capacity to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases and ensure the safety of staff and travellers is a very meaningful initiative that will contribute significantly to economic recovery from the current economic crisis and further economic growth in Sri Lanka, where tourism is one of the main industries.”

The component of the project focusing on Sri Lanka will improve safety and security, and support process efficiency at primary points of entry (PoEs) to ensure more effective preparedness and proactive response to potential public health emergencies due to infectious disease outbreaks.

Designed to enable secure and safe operations at PoEs to augur international travel, boost traveller confidence and prompt a return to pre-pandemic levels of cross-border mobility, the project will address gaps in passenger processing and health screening systems at PoEs through a combination of new technology, infrastructure, procedures, training, and renovation works. This will streamline the management of traveller information, reduce waiting times, implement contactless processes and procedures by border control personnel. The project will also institute infection prevention measures and emergency response modalities and guarantee the safe disposal of potentially hazardous medical waste at PoEs, resulting in a safe environment for staff, travellers and crew while reducing harmful environmental and health impacts. Travellers and other personnel working at the PoEs will be the main beneficiaries of this initiative, aside from the airport and seaport workers and officials.

“Designed on the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, this project is anchored to IOM’s strategy on Migration and Sustainable Development and will support Sri Lanka and the Maldives to respond to future disease outbreaks and health threats,” said Sarat Dash, Chief of Mission to IOM Sri Lanka and the Maldives. He added, “IOM will work closely with its host government partners to harness the development benefits of migration while ensuring a hassle-free and dignified process for international travellers, including the migrant population.”

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Could Omicron BA.2.75 sub-variant lead to a new global COVID-19 wave?





A new sub-lineage of the Omicron variant known as BA.2.75, which was first detected in India, has raised concerns among health experts, Indian media reported.

BA.2.75, which is said to be a second generation sub-variant of Omicron BA.2, has an 18 percent growth advantage over other Omicron sub-variants currently circulating in India, The Indian Express reported.

Sub-lineages of Omicron have been the dominant strains circulating across the globe, with new mutations continuously evolving.

BA.2.75 could be behind recent COVID-19 surge in India

BA.2.75 has been detected in about 10 states in India, which has been witnessing a surge in new infections in the last month or so, according to Indian media.

In the last 10 days, the number of new cases in the country has been hovering in the 15,000-19,000 range, while the number in the past few months stayed below 3,000.

Dr. Rajesh Karyakarte, a microbiologist at Pune’s B J Medical College and head of Maharashtra’s genome sequencing effort, and scientists elsewhere in India, have picked up three sub-variants, BA.2.74, BA.2.75, and BA.2.76, as the possible drivers for the current surge, according to The Indian Express.

The three sub-variants have more than nine changes in the spike protein, and are expected to outnumber the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, which were the most common until a few weeks ago, according to Karyakarte’s team.

Besides India, the strain has also been reported by several other countries, including Japan, Germany, the UK, Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, according to data from Nextstrain, an open-source platform of global pathogen genome data.

Does it cause more severe disease?

So far, there is no evidence to suggest that the BA.2.75 leads to a more severe form of infection, although scientists are at a very early stage to know about it.

Evidence on its transmissibility and immune evasiveness is also still preliminary and emerging, according to a statement from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

Why are health experts concerned?

While there is not much known about the new strain, health experts have raised concerns about it.

In a series of tweets, Dr. Shay Fleishon from the Central Virology Laboratory at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, said the sub-variant may be “alarming because it may imply a trend to come.”

He explained that in recent months, there has been a trend of second-generation variants based on Omicron sub-lineages BA.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, and BA.5.

He said until now the second-generation variants have only been found in a few cases within one region. But BA.2.75 has spread to multiple regions, the first of its kind to do so.

The BA.2.75 variant has new mutations in the spike protein, of which G446S and R493Q are of particular concern, as they give the variant the ability to evade several antibodies, reported, citing unnamed experts.

This means it can infect people who have been vaccinated, or have been infected previously, the report said.

Research reveals that the R493Q mutation increases the strain’s ability to attach to ACE2, the protein that the COVID-19 virus uses to enter cells, according to the report.

Source: CGTN

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Chinese experts caution against over-disinfection for COVID-19





Chinese health experts have cautioned against inappropriate disinfection practices to curb the spread of COVID-19, and called for minimizing the impact on people’s regular life when conducting necessary disinfection.

“We should avoid blind or excessive disinfection, and make it targeted. Disinfection is only necessary when the virus transmission can be cut off this way,” said Zhang Liubo, chief disinfection specialist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

“If we have multiple methods to block the spread of the virus, we can choose the safest, most effective, economical and convenient one. Disinfection is one of the available options,” he added.

For example, items not touched by the infected people in their homes can be sealed off and left unattended for a period of time, instead of getting disinfectant sprayed on them, according to Zhang.

During the battle against the latest Omicron wave in China, there have been media reports and online complaints about some questionable disinfecting approaches, such as workers in protective gear spraying disinfectant all over someone’s home.

Is indoor disinfection necessary?

In accordance with China’s Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, places and items contaminated by infectious disease pathogens should be strictly disinfected, said Lei Zhenglong, deputy head of the Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control at the National Health Commission.

Disinfection of places that may have been contaminated by the coronavirus, such as the living areas of the infected people, has played an important role in ensuring the safety of the environment, he said.

Zhang further explained that after the infected people were relocated to other places, there might still be living virus on the objects or in the environment that have been contaminated, which need to be sanitized.

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether there still exist living virus in the contaminated environment, because how long the virus can survive on the surfaces of objects is associated with a lot of factors, including the characteristics of the virus, the viral load, the temperature, humidity and the intensity of sunlight in the environment, he said.

Previous studies have shown that the novel coronavirus can live for two to three days on environmental surfaces, and even up to 28 days under certain conditions.

It is also possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus, both Chinese and foreign health authorities like the U.S. CDC have said.

Terminal disinfection of the contaminated places can ensure that the environment and the objects are free of living virus. Therefore, indoor disinfection of infected people’s homes is one of the effective measures to prevent against the virus transmission among family members.

Safe and effective disinfection stressed

Although proper disinfection of the contaminated environment is necessary, Lei pointed out that there have been problems in the disinfection practices in some places, like inadequate communication with the affected residents and improper operations.

It’s necessary to strengthen the training of proper disinfection procedures, as well as the supervision of the disinfection process, he said.

When organizing indoor disinfection of someone’s home, local health authorities should strictly follow relative technical specifications and procedures, and keep the residents informed about the whole process, so that they can understand and support the disinfection work, he added.

People should choose safe and effective disinfectants and disinfecting methods, Zhang said, adding that different methods should be adopted for different items and materials.

They should also protect the valuables and minimize the damage to the objects inside some’s home when conducting the disinfection work, he noted.


Source: CGTN

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