The Shyama Nair Petition To Stop Sinovac Vaccine Use

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A petition by Shyama Nair to stop Sinovac vaccine use for senior citizens in Malaysia is being shared on WhatsApp and Facebook.

Let’s take a look at the claims she made, and find out what the FACTS really are!


The Shyama Nair Petition To Stop Sinovac Vaccine Use

Someone called Shyama Nair started a petition called “Stopping the sinovac [sic] vaccines for senior citizens in Malaysia“.

She apparently started this petition after the National Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that the Sinovac vaccine would also be given to senior citizens.

The petition, which is being shared on Facebook and WhatsApp, comes with this description :

China has just told the world that their Sinovac Vaccine is not effective with less than 50% efficacy. Yet the Government wants to give this to those above 60 years of age, the group that is most vulnerable to a fatal outcome of the Covid 19 virus. The Government is treating senior citizens like thrash after they have availed themselves to the Pfizer vaccine. This is bad and a poor reflection of how this Government views the senior citizens who have given their all to this country and hoping to live out the rest of the days peacefully. The sinovac vaccine will give senior citizens a false sense of security and when it fails as it has been proven to fail, we will not just die, but we will suffer and die. The way the government is treating this group of the population is as if we no longer matter, and that we are a disposable part of society, and dispensable. There are so many vaccines out there. Why are we so desperate to use the discards from China. It is so frustrating that we are put in such a situation that we can’t even chose. We are made into beggars accepting the scraps of dried bread and rotting fish thrown to us. It’s deplorable that, in other countries they are safeguarding their senior citizens and here in Malaysia we are not treated as warga Mas but besi karat.


Shyama Nair Petition To Stop Sinovac Vaccine Use : The Facts

While we understand where Shyama Nair is coming from, her petition is based on misinformation and misunderstanding of vaccine efficacy.

Here are the FACTS that everyone should understand about her claims, before they sign the petition, or worse – refuse their vaccinations.

Fact #1 : Sinovac Vaccine Efficacy Is Just Over 50%

While Shyama Nair claims that the Sinovac vaccine has less than 50% efficacy, that’s just not true.

As we explained in our Sinovac vaccine FAQ, its efficacy is a subject of some controversy.

But just before China approved this vaccine for general use, Sinovac announced their Phase 3 results  :

  • Brazil Trial : 50.65% efficacy
  • Turkey Trial : 91.25% efficacy

Even in the worst case scenario, the Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine has an efficacy of just over 50%.

That puts it over the line WHO recommends for COVID-19 vaccine approval.

The Shyama Nair Petition To Stop Sinovac Vaccine Use

Fact #2 : China Never Said Sinovac Vaccine Not Effective

China never said that the Sinovac vaccine is not effective.

It is likely Shyama Nair was referring to the Gao Fu, the Chinese CDC director, who said that the protection offered by current Chinese vaccines are “not high“.

Stating the Chinese vaccines do not offer high protection is quite different from saying that they are not effective.

As we noted in our fact check, Chinese vaccines are mostly comparable in efficacy with Western vaccines of the same technology.

COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy
Pfizer Comirnaty 95.0%
Moderna mRNA-1273 94.1%
Gamaleya Sputnik V 91.6%
Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV 79% ~ 86%
AstraZeneca AZD1222 76% ~ 85%
Novavax Covovax 60 ~ 89%
J&J Janssen COVID-19 66.0%
CanSino Convidecia 65.7%
Sinovac CoronaVac 50.65%

Fact #3 : Early Vaccination More Important Than Vaccine Efficacy

After frontline medical workers, senior citizens are at the greatest risk of complications and death if they get infected with COVID-19. On that count, Shyama Nair is correct.

While it would be ideal for them to receive the most efficacious vaccine, that is really far, FAR LESS important than getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

Instead of worrying about efficacy (which most people don’t even understand!), focus on the fact that ALL approved COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe disease and death!

As we explained in our guide on which COVID-19 vaccine to choose, early protection is far more important than vaccine efficacy.

More importantly, even the “lousiest” Chinese vaccine will greatly protect them against severe disease (requiring hospitalisation), and prevent them from dying!

Recommended : Which COVID-19 Vaccine Should YOU Choose?

COVID-19 Vaccine Protection Against
Pfizer Comirnaty 95.0% 100% 100%
Moderna mRNA-1273 94.1% 100% 100%
Gamaleya Sputnik V 91.6% 100% 100%
AstraZeneca AZD1222 76% ~ 85% 100% 100%
Novavax Covovax 60 ~ 89% 100% 100%
CanSino Convidecia 65.7% 90.98% 100%
Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV 79% ~ 86% 90% 100%
J&J Janssen COVID-19 66.0% 85% 100%
Sinovac CoronaVac 50.65% 83.7% 100%

Fact #4 : Vaccine Supply Is Limited

When both the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines proved to be highly efficacious in December 2020, we already pointed out that they cannot possibly supply more than a fraction of the world!

By squeezing a 6th dose out of their 5-dose vials, and massively ramping up their production, Pfizer said in January 2021 that they can potentially deliver up to 2 billion doses by the end of the year.

Moderna, on the other hand, is aiming to deliver up to 1 billion doses in 2021, after their own massive ramp-up.

Even if they can achieve their targets, that’s just 3 billion doses to vaccinate 1.5 billion people in 2021, and that’s assuming zero wastage. At best, they will cover just under 19% of the world’s population of 7.9 billion!

So it would be impractical to rely on mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna to vaccinate the world. Do we really want to wait 5 years to achieve herd immunity?


Do Not Let Perfect Be The Enemy Of Good

Here is my advice to Shyama Nair and all those who think like her – do not let perfect be the enemy of good.

Instead of scaring our senior citizens into waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine they prefer, we should be encouraging them to get the first vaccine offered to them.

Vaccines are like body armour. It doesn’t make sense to reject wearing Chinese body armour while under enemy fire, and risk your life waiting for German body armour that you prefer.

Here is our advice to EVERYONE – get vaccinated ASAP with the first COVID-19 vaccine you can get.

DO NOT WAIT for “something better”. You may get infected before you get that vaccine!


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