07/20/2021, 14.34
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Covid-19: Infections at the border with Myanmar triple. Doubts over Chinese vaccines grow

Yesterday, 49 cases were recorded, compared to 15 on July 6. Many originating in the former Burma. Chinese scientist leading the fight against the virus receives third dose of a different vaccine. Study: Sinovac produces one-tenth of the antibodies produced by Pfizer-BioNTech. Health workers vaccinated with Chinese drugs die of coronavirus in Indonesia and Thailand.


Beijing (AsiaNews) - Cases of coronavirus have more than tripled in the province of Yunnan, on the border with Myanmar, according to a statement issued today by the National Health Commission.

49 infections were recorded yesterday in the border towns of Ruili and Longchuan: 41 were Chinese citizens who had returned home from Myanmar; eight were local infections. On 6 July, there were 15, including 12 Burmese citizens.

Overall, the authorities counted 65 positive cases across China yesterday: official numbers are very low compared to other countries, but they mark the highest level since 30 January, when there were 92.

The Yunnan outbreak is the second of the Delta variant. The first one broke out in Guangdong at the end of May, leading to the closure of several major ports, with significant damage to national and international trade.   

Zong Guoying, Yunnan's deputy governor, has promised that the authorities will build a 'steel fortress' to stop the transmission of the virus. To cope with the spread of the infection from Myanmar, the local government has instituted strict border controls. Chinese soldiers patrol the border to prevent the arrival of Burmese migrants, potential spreaders of the coronavirus. The ongoing civil conflict between the military coup and the armed opposition has made it more difficult to contain the pandemic emergency in Myanmar.

Gao Fu, director of China's Office of Disease Control and Prevention, said on 18 July that Chinese vaccines were working against the Delta strain. He admitted, however, that he had received a third dose of a different vaccine to boost antibody production.

In April, Gao had caused a stir by speculating about the administration of different vaccines in the same patient. Most observers read his release as a public admission of the ineffectiveness of Chinese vaccines. A study by the University of Hong Kong, published in Lancet Microbe on 15 July, claims that the Chinese Sinovac generates one-tenth of the antibodies produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.

So far, China has developed four vaccines, and is the global leader in vaccine exports. However, health authorities in several countries have complained about the limited validity of Chinese vaccines, a problem for all those governments that have bought them or received them for free from Beijing.

For example, hundreds of Thai and Indonesian health workers have contracted Covid after having been vaccinated with Chinese medicines: 30 of them have died in Indonesia; two in Thailand: a heavy blow for Xi Jinping's "vaccine diplomacy".




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