Chinese vaccine expert says VOA twisted his words in describing Sinopharm vaccine as 'unsafe'
Published: Jan 07, 2021 02:06 PM

Sinopharm vaccine File photo:VCG

Chinese expert Tao Lina clarified that Chinese inactivated vaccines are safe and said VOA has twisted his words to mean the opposite in their news article. 

Tao, a Shanghai-based expert on vaccines and a former Shanghai disease prevention and control employee, had recently published a post on Chinese social media Sina Weibo criticizing the Sinopharm vaccine's user guide, which listed 73 possible adverse reactions, for being lengthy and overly cautious. 

He wrote satirically that the user guide, which was meant to serve as a disclaimer, inadvertently makes the vaccine look like the most unsafe vaccine in the world and may be used by hostile parties as a tool to question its safety. 

However, the VOA on its Chinese language website used Tao's words in its report published on Thursday, writing that the Sinopharm vaccine was found to produce 73 side effects, making it the most unsafe vaccine in the world.

Tao told the Global Times on Thursday, "I have never said that inactivated vaccines lacked safety and efficacy. Instead, I frequently emphasized that inactivated vaccines produced by China are safe in multiple articles to dismiss public concerns over vaccinations."

China has completed three clinical trials of coronavirus vaccines in less than a year and the phase III clinical trials showed that the safety and efficacy of Sinopharm vaccine reached 79 percent. "You can never put too much emphasis on safety and efficacy. The attempts to discredit the image of Chinese vaccines' safety really makes me annoyed," Tao noted. 

The report twisted Tao's words to support its own narrative and even emphasized Tao's status as a vaccine expert and a former employee of the Shanghai disease prevention and control department to support its claim.

"I did not say in the post that the Chinese vaccine was unsafe, because I know most of those 73 adverse reactions written on the Sinopharm vaccine user guide are non-existent. This ironic way of pointing out the safety and efficacy of the Chinese vaccine was distorted by foreign media," Tao told the Global Times. 

Tao said the improper instructions written on the vaccine are misleading to the public, and that there is no conclusive proof that some extreme adverse reactions such as high blood pressure are directly related to the vaccine. "It is possible that some irresponsible temporary employee made this user guide, which could have been wrongly written," Tao said.  

Tao revealed that the user guide of the Sinopharm vaccine which he posted online was dated December 30 and may not be the final version. Sinopharm may improve it later, he noted. 

Sinopharm could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Tao explained that it was precisely because he firmly believes that the Sinopharm inactivated COVID-19 vaccine is very safe that he had the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on December 26 and will go to receive the second dose this Saturday. 

Global Times