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2021-05-13 08:05:19

Health officials in Indonesia said that a Chinese vaccine is 94% effective in preventing COVID-19 among medical workers in its capital city, Bloomberg reported.

At a press conference Wednesday, Pandji Dhewantara, an official with Indonesia’s health ministry and the trial’s lead researcher, said that from January to March, authorities had been monitoring 128,290 medical workers in Jakarta who received CoronaVac, the COVID-19 vaccine made by Beijing-based pharmaceutical company Sinovac.

The results showed that the shot, which was approved in Indonesia in January, was 98% effective in preventing death from COVID-19 within this population. In addition, Indonesian officials said the vaccine was 94% effective in protecting the health care workers from symptomatic cases — a far higher figure than those of previous large-scale clinical trials.

In one such trial conducted in Brazil, the Sinovac vaccine was 50.7% effective in preventing coronavirus infection in nearly 13,000 participants. That data has been released as a preprint study and has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Wang Jun, a pharmacologist at the University of Arizona, told Sixth Tone that the discrepancy between the Indonesia and Brazil clinical trial results isn’t surprising.

“Analysis among health care workers isn’t really representative,” he said, as this specific population is more likely to wear masks and practice good hygiene, among other behaviors that reduce infection risks.

“But honestly, the effectiveness of a vaccine is likely to change because the virus is changing,” Wang said. Experts have expressed great concerns about the many novel coronavirus mutations that are emerging around the world. So far, there is insufficient data to indicate whether the variants will dent the vaccines’ established efficacy rates.

“There’s no point in comparing real-world numbers to the clinical trial results,” Wang said. “What we need to focus on, for example, is whether the death toll is rising, or if people need to be hospitalized and put on ventilators.”

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: A health care worker prepares to administer a dose of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine during an inoculation campaign on the streets of São Paulo, March 30, 2021. People Visual)