TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An Indonesian nurse has died nine days after being injected with the Chinese vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
China has recently begun exporting shipments of its coronavirus vaccines as part of its "vaccine diplomacy" effort to rebuild its tarnished image and gain an edge on Western rivals amid the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. However, because the vaccines were rushed to market without completing Phase III clinical trials, their low efficacy rate, and a large number of reported side effects, many would-be recipients are concerned about their safety.
Malaysian Chinese-language newspaper China Press on Wednesday (Feb. 24) reported that a 33-year-old nurse at Ngudi Waluyo Regional General Hospital in Blitar, East Java, had died nine days after receiving a shot from Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine. The nurse, identified as Erny Kusuma Sukma Dewi, had received the first dose of the two-shot vaccine on Jan. 28.
However, before she received her second injection, she began to experience fever, shortness of breath, and a cough. She was hospitalized on Feb. 5 and placed in an intensive care unit Feb. 6.
She died on Feb. 14, and prior to her death, a swab test revealed that she had contracted COVID-19, reported SINDOnews.com. The director of the hospital Endah Woro Utami said that the nurse had passed a health screening prior to taking the shot.
Woro said that other than being classified as obese, she was declared healthy and had no comorbidities. He is not certain how she contracted the coronavirus because no other staff members have been diagnosed with the disease.
According to the Blitar chapter of the National Union of Indonesian Nurses, the patient's "latest diagnoses were COVID-19, pneumonia, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and obesity," reported CNN Indonesia. East Java Provincial DPRD Member Heri Romadlon expressed his hope that there will be clarity after an investigation is carried out by the health department to determine whether she died as a result of the vaccine injected into her body or due to other causes.
After her death, Indonesia's Ministry of Health expressed deep condolences but declined to comment on any possible connection between the vaccine and her death. It emphasized that after the first dose is administered, it can only trigger a partial immune response, and it is not until about 14 to 28 days after the second dose has been injected that it is believed the body begins to develop immunity to COVID-19.
Anvisa, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency, criticized the Chinese government last December for not making its criteria for authorizing the emergency use of CoronaVac public back in June. Fake vaccines made in China have also reportedly started to be a problem, with Chinese authorities this month arresting the alleged ringleader of a multi-million dollar scam to package saline solution and mineral water as vaccines and sell them domestically and overseas.
The safety of the Chinese-made shot BBIBP-CorV, an inactivated vaccine produced by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a subsidiary of China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation (Sinopharm), has come into question given the 73 local and systemic adverse reactions listed in its manual. Meanwhile, a Brazilian study of the vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd, CoronaVac, found that the shot's efficacy rate is only 50.4 percent when "very mild infections" were included in its calculations.
A survey released on Tuesday (Feb. 23) revealed that only 1.3 percent of Taiwanese would accept a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine, while 72.7 percent of young adults would prefer a vaccine developed in Taiwan.