Somali state media said that the federal government expects a shipment of Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the capital on Sunday.
Somalia announced that it had inked a deal with Chinese vaccine maker Sinopharm to obtain 200,000 doses of the BBIBP-CorV COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday as critics globally raise questions about the vaccine efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines.
Somalia’s ambassador to China, Awale Kulane, signed the agreement with his deputy head of mission, Said Mire. Kulane said that he hoped more deliveries would follow.
The decision to import the vaccines comes as questions about the effectiveness of Chinese vaccines compared to others on the market.
China has produced four vaccines that have efficacy rates that trail behind Western rivals.
China’s Sinovac reported that Brazil’s trials resulted in about 50% efficacy in preventing infection and 80% in preventing hospitalization or serious medical attention. Sinopharm’s two vaccines fared better with an efficacy rate of 79.3 and 72.5, respectively. CanSino’s vaccine reported a 65.2% efficacy.
Also, there are reports that a third dose is required for ample protection, and the Chinese-produced vaccines have come under intense scrutiny for not making full disclosure on their phase 3 trials.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have boasted efficacy rates of 95% and 94%.
The efficacy rate is the percentage reduction of COVID19 in a vaccinated group compared to the unvaccinated.
The vaccine has been authorized for use in over 30 countries and has strong demand from developing countries as vaccine shortages begin to bite.
Despite supplying over 100 million doses globally, the vaccine is not inspiring unwavering confidence. A recent study revealed that only 40% of Hong Kong residents said they were willing to take the Sinopharm vaccine.
The World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) said that it hoped to issue recommendations on the Chinese-made vaccines by the end of April. If approved, the vaccines will be used under the global vaccine-sharing program, COVAX.
Somalia received its first shipment of vaccines in mid-March when it received 300,000 doses of the Oxford-Astrazenea vaccine from the COVAX initiative.
Somalia has recorded 12,271 cases of COVID-19 and 605 death since the onset of the pandemic, but limited testing means that there are legitimate fears that the actual number could be much higher.