英文

Editorial:WHO's approval of 2nd Chinese vaccine against COVID

【明報專訊】The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved a COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac for emergency use listing. This is the second Chinese COVID-19 vaccine that has been confirmed by the WHO to be safe and effective, the first being the Sinopharm vaccine. As the COVID-19 virus has kept mutating, the first generation of vaccines, though not panaceas, can slow down the rate at which the pandemic worsens around the world. This gives scientists more time to develop a new generation of vaccines and drugs. Experts say that the many types of vaccines against COVID-19 are still effective against variants to a certain extent. Hong Kong has two vaccines approved by the WHO, namely the Comirnaty and the Sinovac vaccines. Instead of waiting for the ''perfect vaccine'' to become available, the public might as well get vaccinated as soon as possible to build a wall of protection for the sake of themselves and others.

Europe and the US often view ''non-Western vaccines'' suspiciously, and it is common for them to pour cold water on Chinese vaccines. In Hong Kong, some people also hold prejudice against the safety of China-made vaccines. In the era of the pandemic, whoever controls vaccines is able to influence the overall international situation. Owing to vaccine nationalism, there are many theories going around the world that take things out of context and reflect prejudices rather than the truth. Earlier, the WHO approved the emergency use of the Sinopharm vaccine. There were reports in the US that, despite the use of the Sinopharm vaccine in the Seychelles, an African country, there was still a COVID outbreak. These reports also included comments by US experts, who were sceptical about the Sinopharm vaccine's effectiveness. The WHO approval of the Sinovac vaccine, which has come later than expected, has also led to quite a lot of speculation.

The West often criticises China's vaccine clinical data for ''lacking transparency''. The real problem lies with the easing of the pandemic situation in China, because of which the clinical trials for Chinese vaccines have had to be conducted in a number of different nations. WHO officials have described the process as difficult and challenging. The lack of data for older adults in the clinical trial for the Sinopharm vaccine has had to do with this. A similar situation has also happened to the Sinovac vaccine. The lack of some data has delayed the approval of Chinese vaccines by the WHO. However, after a comprehensive analysis of all the data, experts from the WHO believe that the two vaccines are safe, effective and suitable for elderly people. Of course, the actual limitations on clinical trials aside, Chinese vaccine manufacturers have to learn a lesson from their interaction with the WHO. The Sinovac vaccine was approved by the WHO nearly a month later than the Sinopharm vaccine, and one of the reasons was that the WHO required Sinovac to provide data about the vaccine's production to determine whether it met the standards. Sinovac is not as familiar with the WHO's process for approving a vaccine as Western drug companies such as AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer are, and is relatively lacking in experience. This is an area in which China needs to learn and improve itself.

The COVID-19 virus might stay forever. One way to overcome it in the long run is to develop highly effective drugs to treat it so that its threat is reduced to the level similar to that of influenza. Mainland drug companies and Western ones, such as Pfizer, are all taking research forward in this area. The more people who are vaccinated, the more likely we are able to slow down the global pandemic. Scientists will then have more time to develop more effective treatments. The WHO has confirmed that the Comirnaty and Sinovac vaccines are both safe and effective. Instead of waiting indefinitely for the ''perfect vaccine'', which is unrealistic, it is better to seize the opportunity and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

明報社評 2021.06.03:世衛認可科興疫苗 打針抗疫放下成見

世衛批准將科興疫苗列入緊急使用清單,這是繼國藥疫苗後,再有中國新冠疫苗獲世衛確認安全有效。新冠病毒不斷演化,第一代新冠疫苗雖非萬靈丹,但可以拖慢全球疫情惡化速度,讓科學家有更多時間,研究新一代疫苗及治療藥物。專家指出現有的多款新冠疫苗,對變種病毒仍有一定效用,香港能夠同時有復必泰及科興這兩款世衛認證疫苗,市民與其坐等「完美疫苗」面世,不如趁早打針,為己為人建立抗疫屏障。

歐美對「非西方疫苗」不時流露懷疑態度,中國疫苗被潑冷水更是家常便飯,在香港,亦有一些人以有色眼鏡看待國產疫苗的安全性。抗疫大時代,誰主疫苗足以左右國際大局,疫苗民族主義作祟,各地都有很多斷章取義、反映成見多於真相的論述。早前世衛批准國藥疫苗緊急使用,美國有報道指非洲國家塞舌爾使用國藥疫苗仍爆疫,並援引美國專家說法,質疑國藥疫苗效用;世衛審批科興疫苗較預期慢,亦惹來不少猜測。

西方常指中國疫苗臨牀數據「缺乏透明度」,真正問題在於中國疫情緩和,國產疫苗要找合作伙伴,分散在多國做臨牀實驗,世衛官員形容過程難度高挑戰大,國藥疫苗缺乏足夠年長人群數據,與此有關;科興方面,亦出現相似情况。部分數據不夠,拖慢世衛審批中國疫苗進度,然而世衛專家最終認為,綜合所有資料,足以相信國藥及科興疫苗安全有效,也適合長者接種。當然,撇開臨牀實驗方面的客觀限制,中國疫苗廠商也要好好汲取跟世衛打交道的經驗。科興疫苗比國藥遲了近一個月獲批,原因之一是世衛要求科興提供有關生產過程數據,評估是否符合標準。科興不如阿斯利康、強生或輝瑞等西方藥廠般熟知世衛審核過程,相對欠缺經驗,這是中國需要學習和改進的地方。

新冠病毒有可能永存於世,長遠克服它的一個方法,是發展出高效治療藥物,令其威脅降至跟流感差不多,現時內地和輝瑞等西方藥企都在推進這方面的研究。愈多人打疫苗,對拖慢全球疫情愈有利,科學家可以有更多時間,研發更有效的治療藥物。世衛確認復必泰及科興疫苗安全有效,市民無了期等待「完美疫苗」,並不現實,不如把握機會盡早打針。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

panacea /ˌpænəˈsiːə/:sth that will solve all the problems of a particular situation

lacking /ˈlækɪŋ/:having none or not enough of sth

indefinitely /ɪnˈdefɪnətli/:for a period of time with no fixed limit

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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