World

Australian, Indonesian experts doubt efficacy of some vaccines

They distrust AstraZeneca and Sinovac over lower effectiveness cited in data

SYDNEY : Some scientists in Australia and doctors in Indonesia are questioning the effectiveness of vaccines being used in their respective countries.

In Australia, scientists have proposed delaying inoculations using AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine with a view to considering a different shot instead.

Questions surrounding the vaccine in Australia have cast a cloud over its immunisation plans, with 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab already on order.

Experts cited data showing the AstraZeneca jab had 62 per cent efficacy compared with over 90 per cent for a vaccine developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.

"The question is really whether it (AstraZeneca) is able to provide herd immunity. We are playing a long game here. We don't know how long that will take," said Professor Stephen Turner, president of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology (ASI).

Prof Turner added that the government must pivot towards getting more of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

In a statement, the ASI said Prof Turner was speaking as an expert in immunology and that the body did not advocate a pause to the roll-out as widely reported by local media.

Neither AstraZeneca nor Pfizer have approval from the country's drug regulator yet.

AstraZeneca's vaccine is approved in Britain, India and Argentina and is under review by several other countries.

Australia's chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, attempted to address concerns around the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, calling it "effective", "safe" and of "high quality".

Prof Kelly said Australia would have more data by next month as well as "real-world information" from London, which has already rolled out the vaccine.

CONCERNS

In Indonesia, some doctors have voiced concerns over the vaccination campaign that started yesterday with President Joko Widodo getting the first shot of the CoronaVac vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech.

Doctors wanted more information to assuage concerns, said Dr Tri Maharani, who has already had Covid-19 and will not get the vaccine.

Another doctor was concerned about the efficacy.

"I am not rejecting vaccines, I am rejecting Sinovac's," said Dr Yusdeny Lanasakti.

The vaccine was 50.4 per cent effective in a Brazilian trial, researchers said on Tuesday.

This is higher than the World Health Organisation's benchmark of 50 per cent.

Indonesia approved it for emergency use based on interim data showing 65.3 per cent efficacy. - REUTERS

WORLD