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Latest Covid-19 China vaccine fails and China’s Refusal to tell the truth

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Latest Covid-19 China vaccine fails and China’s Refusal to tell the truth

Peru’s Foreign Affairs Minister Elizabeth Astete resigned on Sunday evening because she is ill with Covid-19 even after being injected with the Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine before the country began its vaccination rollout.

In a statement released on social media, Astete said that after being in contact with several officials who had tested positive for Covid-19 in December 2020 and January 2021, she had accepted an offer to receive a dose of the Sinopharm vaccine on January 22 from what she understood to be “the remaining doses of the batch held by the Cayetano Heredia University.”

Astete, 68, cited having to undergo Covid-19 testing after being in contact with people who had tested positive as factors that influenced her decision to get vaccinated in January. Obviously it did not help or that the vaccine led to her testing positive for the virus.

In a statement, Astete said:

As a result of the recent disclosure about the vaccination of (former) President Vizcarra and his wife, as well as the understandable impact that this news had on public opinion, I am aware of the serious mistake I made, which is why I decided not to receive the second dose.”
“I have submitted my resignation from the post of Foreign Affairs Minister to the President of the Republic.” 

Astete’s resignation comes after local media reported last week that former President Martin Vizcarra and his wife, Maribel Diaz Cabello, were vaccinated while in office last October and did not disclose this information to the public.

On Thursday, Vizcarra said he had volunteered as one of the 12,000 people who were part of the Sinopharm vaccine trials.

But on Saturday, Cayetano Heredia University (UCH) — the leading university in charge of that trial — released a statement clarifying that Vizcarra and his wife were not part of the vaccine trial, which began in September.

Peru’s President Francisco Sagasti accepted Astete’s resignation on Sunday night and said on Twitter that the Health Minister had ordered an investigation into senior public officials getting sick with Covid 19.

“With the transparency and firmness that characterizes our Government, we will publish the results of the investigation and the information provided by Cayetano Heredia University’s Center for Clinical Studies,” Sagasti said.

Sagasti also confirmed the resignation of Vice Health Minister, Luis Suárez Ognio after local media reported that he also got vaccinated. It is unknown at this time, whether he is also sick with Covid 19.

Speaking to local radio RPP on Sunday night, Sagasti expressed his indignation with the scandal and said that the doses that were used to vaccinate government officials were donated by Sinopharm — and were not part of the batch used for the trials led by UCH.

Peru became the first Latin American country to distribute China’s Sinopharm vaccine on February 9. Although other agreements have been finalized with Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/Astrazeneca, China’s Sinopharm vaccine is the only Covid-19 vaccine currently being distributed in the country.

From Reuters: China refused to provide WHO data on early COVID cases – team member

A logo is pictured on the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (photo credit: REUTERS/ DENIS BALIBOUSE)

A logo is pictured on the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

(photo credit: REUTERS/ DENIS BALIBOUSE)

The team had requested raw patient data on 174 cases that China had identified from the early phase of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan in December 2019, as well as other cases, but were only provided with a summary, said Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert who is a member of the team.

Such raw data is known as “line listings” he said, and would typically be anonymised but contain details such as what questions were asked of individual patients, their responses and how their responses were analyzed.

“That’s standard practice for an outbreak investigation,” he told Reuters on Saturday via video call from Sydney, where he is currently undergoing quarantine.

He said that gaining access to the raw data was especially important since only half of the 174 cases had exposure to the Huanan market, the now-shuttered wholesale seafood center in Wuhan where the virus was initially detected.

“That’s why we’ve persisted to ask for that,” Dwyer said. “Why that doesn’t happen, I couldn’t comment. Whether it’s political or time or it’s difficult … But whether there are any other reasons why the data isn’t available, I don’t know. One would only speculate.”

While the Chinese authorities provided a lot of material, he said the issue of access to the raw patient data would be mentioned in the team’s final report. “The WHO people certainly felt that they had received much much more data than they had ever received in the previous year. So that in itself is an advance.”

A summary of the team’s findings could be released as early as next week, the WHO said on Friday.

The probe had been plagued by delay, concern over access and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticized the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research.

The team, which arrived in China in January and spent four weeks looking into the origins of the outbreak, was limited to visits organized by their Chinese hosts and prevented from contact with community members, due to health restrictions. The first two weeks were spent in hotel quarantine.

China’s refusal to hand over raw data on the early COVID-19 cases was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times on Friday.

The WHO did not reply to a request from Reuters for comment. The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment but Beijing has previously defended its transparency in handling the outbreak and its cooperation with the WHO mission.

Dwyer said the work within the WHO team was harmonious but that there were “arguments” at times with their Chinese counterparts over the interpretation and significance of the data, which he described as “natural” in such probes.

“We might be having a talk about cold chain and they might be more firm about what the data shows than what we might have been, but that’s natural. Whether there’s political pressure to have different opinions, I don’t know. There may well be, but it’s hard to know.”

Cold chain refers to the transport and trade of frozen food.

Peter Daszak, a zoologist and another member of the WHO mission, however tweeted on Saturday https://twitter.com/PeterDaszak/status/1360551108565999619 that he had a different experience as the lead of the mission’s animal and environment working group.

“I found trust & openness w/ my China counterparts. We DID get access to critical new data throughout. We DID increase our understanding of likely spillover pathways,” he said in response to the New York Times piece.

Daszak did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

Beijing has sought to cast doubt on the notion that the coronavirus originated in China, pointing to imported frozen food as a conduit.

On Tuesday, Peter Ben Embarek, who led the WHO delegation, told a news conference that transmission of the virus via frozen food is a possibility, but pointed to market vendors selling frozen animal products including farmed wild animals as a potential pathway that warrants further study.

 

The United States has “deep concerns” about the way the findings of the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 report were communicated, the White House said on Saturday, calling on China to make available data from the earliest days of the outbreak.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement that it is imperative that the report be independent and free from “alteration by the Chinese government.”

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