Here’s a look at how they do it and what it means for the world, including Western countries like Canada.
Which countries outside of Europe and North America are the most advanced in the development of COVID-19 vaccines?
The most prominent members of this group include Russia and China. The Sputnik V viral vector vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia, and inactivated vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm in China have already been ordered, donated or used in dozens of countries around the world.
On May 7, the World Health Organization approved one of Sinopharm’s vaccines for emergency use, paving the way for distribution through United Nations programs.
Inde‘s Bharat Biotech has also developed an inactivated vaccine, called Covaxin, which is used in India. The company also signed agreements with companies in the United States and Brazil produce versions of the vaccine at the national level, pending approval.
China, Russia and India all have other vaccines in advanced clinical trials. Other developing countries whose vaccines are in advanced testing include Cuba, Kazakhstan and Iran.
Is it a surprise?
Yes and no.
Most people cannot think of any time they have used a vaccine developed and exported by one of these countries, because “there have been no products like this,” said Achal Prabhala, coordinator. of the accesIBSA project, a campaign to improve access to medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa.
But many countries have put in place the infrastructure and expertise to develop their own vaccines and did not expect easy access to vaccines developed in wealthier countries in Europe and North America. criticized for hoarding.
US economic sanctions against Cuba and the high cost of vaccines would make it difficult for the country to import vaccines, said Helen Yaffe, a lecturer in economic and social history at the University of Glasgow, who has studied and written on development. of the biotechnology industry in Cuba. .
She said the country has been producing its own vaccines for decades. “They had the capacity,” Yaffe said, “but they also, arguably, had the need. “
Why are some of these vaccines controversial?
1. They were used for mass vaccination before the end of clinical trials.
Russia was called “reckless” and criticized by health and science experts in Western media when the country became the first to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use last August – even before the Phase 3 trials of Sputnik V began. It then administered the vaccine to tens of thousands of healthcare workers, teachers and the military before the results of the trial were released. phase 3.
WATCH | Growing recognition of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V:
But it wasn’t the only country to use the emergency approval to start vaccinating local populations before the end of Phase 3 trials – China, Inde, Kazakhstan and Cuba has done the same.
Prabhala, who is based in India, believes home use by those countries prior to Phase 3 results may be warranted during a deadly pandemic, given that vaccine developers generally know whether a vaccine is safe and whether it is. shows promise for protection against disease in the end. phase 2 trials.
2. They haven’t published or published enough data and conducted trials differently.
Colin Funk, Assistant Professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., And Biomedical Consultant at Vancouver-based Novateur Ventures, co-authored an article in the journal Viruses earlier this year with another Innovative consultant, Craig Laferriere, comparing all the leading vaccines in the world.
Funk said in an interview that it is difficult to get reliable information on Chinese vaccines because most have not released the results of clinical trials. The Phase 3 clinical trials of Sputnik V were published in The Lancet in February, but the results were difficult to compare to other vaccines due to different methods, Laferrière told CBC News.
Spoutnik v was recently rejected by Brazilian regulators. Meanwhile, the reported efficacy of Sinovac’s vaccine ranged from 50.4 percent in Brazil to 91.25 percent in Turkey. Some experts have said that the lower efficacy in Brazil could be linked to the different protocols and variants of the virus in the population – even participants with very mild symptoms were tested for COVID-19, unlike other trials, and there was a highly transmissible variant of the P1 virus circulating.
WATCH | Few people in China receive COVID-19 injections despite the development of a vaccine in that country:
Prabhala believes that the fact that the trials took place in different countries under different conditions was actually a good thing.
“I think they provide some sort of independent third-party analysis of the vaccine itself, and in a very real way to me, they give me more confidence that a company is releasing a data set based on a very trial. tightly controlled. ran. ”
However, he said, “I would have liked to see a bit more detail on what the data looked like.”
3. There can be prejudices rooted in culture and politics.
“In general, there’s disbelief that you might have original science that could work anywhere in the world and come out of a place not in the West,” Prabhala said. It exists even in non-Western countries, he said.
He suggested that Russia and China might face higher levels of mistrust than other countries “due to the autocratic nature of the state and sometimes justifiable anger people feel over human rights violations. of State “.
But these are irrelevant to the actual performance of their vaccines, he said. “I think the question with any of these vaccines is, do they work and are they effective? “
How important are these vaccines to global immunization efforts?
They have already played an important role in vaccination campaigns in their country of origin.
Vaccines from China and Russia have also been used in dozens of other countries around the world, many of which have limited or no access to other options.
Chinese vaccines represent tens of millions of doses delivered in Brazil, Turkey and Chile, Nature reported this week. In Brazil, vaccination of the elderly was linked to a rapid decline in mortality compared to unvaccinated age groups, report from local researchers in a study that has not yet been peer-reviewed.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Hungary and Serbia have much higher COVID-19 vaccination rates than other countries on the continent. Prabhala said it was because they both ordered, evaluated and approved vaccines from Russia and China.
The reach of Chinese and Russian vaccines could increase with a list for emergency use by the World Health Organization – something one of Sinopharm’s vaccines has already achieved. WHO recently found Sinovac’s vaccine was effective but the company did not provide enough data, while Sputnik V has been submitted for WHO review.
A WHO list would allow their use by United Nations agencies, their distribution around the world thanks to the global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX and use in countries that do not have the capacity to make their own regulatory approvals.
Meanwhile, Yaffe says Cuba’s vaccines bring hope to people in the south of the world.
“If they wait for the vaccines from the big pharmaceutical companies, it could take many years before they have a chance to get vaccinated,” she said.
Prabhala said more options are better for everyone – even wealthier countries that have deals with some manufacturers. He noted that the initial launch of the vaccine in Canada was slow start compared to countries like US and UK, in large part due to manufacturing delays at Pfizer and Moderna.
“I imagine, therefore, that if Canada had had a greater choice of vaccines available… the deployment would have been smoother and faster and would have given the country and its people much more security.