Sinopharm is 'a victim of geopolitics,' Trinidad and Tobago PM responds to local reports smearing Sinopharm's vaccine efficacy
Published: Dec 21, 2021 02:33 AM
Sinopharm Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China's Sinopharm vaccine is a victim of geopolitics, Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said after local newspaper The Trinidad Express tried to smear Sinopharm's vaccine efficacy with unscientific tests, which has been condemned by various parties. 

The report, published on Sunday, said that it used the St Augustine Medical Laboratory (STAML) to conduct antibody titer tests to analyze the level of antibodies in four persons: two fully vaccinated with Sinopharm's vaccine and two with AstraZeneca's vaccine. The newspaper paid $750 for each test.

The results of the two persons vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine registered levels of antibodies of 32.9 and 9.28 while other two vaccinated with AstraZeneca had levels of 480 and 503. 

The newspaper thus concluded that Sinopharm's shots "do not seem to provide a high level of immunity protection." 

Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said on Facebook on Monday that the Express' report "must be the worst piece of irresponsible journalism" he had ever seen. 

Rowley said that "the Express has made the discovery as published to undermine a vaccine which might very well be a victim of geopolitics."

Furthermore, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago said in a statement over the issue released on Monday that "the conclusions of the news report are based on a crude and amateurish 'study' with only 4 samples, and thus completely a farce.". 

This most irresponsible media report has blatantly ignored plenty of the world-recognized scientific researches, distorted the facts, violated journalism ethics, created public panic and meant to undermine the resolve and actions of the people of Trinidad and Tobago in their brave battle against this pandemic at this critical moment, the spokesperson of the Chinese embassy said.  

"We deeply deplore and firmly oppose this media report, urge relevant parties to immediately rectify its wrongdoing, take concrete measures to undo the damage, and not to move further down the wrong path," read the remarks. 

The spokesperson noted that the efficacy of Chinese vaccines has been proved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other professional institutions. According to the WHO, a large multi-country Phase 3 trial has shown that two doses of COVID-19 vaccine BIBP produced by Sinopharm have an efficacy of 79 percent against symptomatic infection and 79 percent against hospitalization. The European Union (EU) officially issued the GMP certificate for the Sinopharm vaccine.

The STAML released a post on Facebook on Sunday denying that it had ever "engaged with any media house or media personnel to participate in any analysis for the purpose of assessing the reliability of any vaccine," adding that "statements alluding to this are wholly untrue and reckless."  

The lab noted that antibody values are not in any way representative of the antibody status in a patient.   

The Pan American Health Organization also released a statement to support Sinopharm's vaccine, stressing that it was approved by the WHO after rigorous evaluation.  

A total of 1 million shots of Sinopharm's vaccine purchased by Trinidad and Tobago have arrived as the country received the second batch of 800,000 shots on November 15, three days after Rowley received his third shot of the vaccine. 

The first batch of 200,000 Sinopharm doses were delivered in July, leading to a storm of criticism and mockery that swept the US Embassy after it announced that 80 vials of vaccine were donated to the nation of 1.4 million people.

As early as May, China had already donated 100,000 doses to the country. 

Rowley noted that the report by the Express came at a time when the government is shifting policy to encourage the use of the authorized vaccines. "To attempt to undermine a nation's vaccination program in a pandemic is nothing short of criminal!" Rowley said.

Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, also slammed the Express as most unscientific and infantile, saying on Facebook on Monday that it is hinting to the readers that "the World Health Organization, the government, and the public health authorities are offering you this vaccine but you should not take it because it is ineffective."

Netizens in Trinidad and Tobago are also irritated by the unscientific report.

"This is criminal and this media house should not only lose their license but they should be made to pay for this!" one netizen commented.