China is the first country in the world to vaccinate its citizens with experimental COVID-19 vaccines that are still undergoing clinical trials. No other country has vaccinated people on such a large scale with experimental COVID-19 vaccines prior to final regulatory approval for general use as China has done with their coronavirus vaccine candidates.1
Chinese Government Authorized Emergency Use of COVID-19 Vaccines
According to Zheng Zhongwei, director of the Development Center for Medical Science and Technology at the National Health Commission in China, the Chinese government authorized the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by domestic pharmaceutical companies on July 22, 2020.2
Zheng, who is leading China’s COVID-19 vaccine development task force, said the emergency use authorization was in line with Chinese vaccine law, which allows unapproved vaccine candidates to be used on people who are considered high-risk for a limited period.3
China has reportedly been administering experimental COVID-19 vaccines to high-risk individuals for over a month. Among those who have received experimental coronavirus vaccines include frontline health care workers, public service workers and border officials.4 Chinese pharmaceutical companies have also administered their experimental vaccines to their top executives and leading researchers.5
Thousands of COVID-19 Vaccinated Citizens Forced to Sign “Nondisclosure” Agreement
There are four COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by Chinese pharmaceutical companies that are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials, which are mostly being conducted in United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Peru, Morocco, Argentina, Indonesia and Brazil. The Chinese government has approved three experimental coronavirus vaccines for emergency use that are currently being administered in China.6
State-owned Sinopharm, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, has reportedly given their experimental vaccine to 350,000 people. Sinovac Biotech Ltd., another Chinese pharmaceutical company, has administered its experimental vaccine to 90 percent of its employees and family members under the emergency-use provision and thousands of doses to employees of Beijing city government. The Chinese military has also approved the use of a vaccine it developed with CanSino Biologics, Inc., a Chinese biopharmaceutical company, for experimental use in military personnel.7
The Hindustan Times has reported that those getting these experimental vaccines are also made to sign a “nondisclosure agreement”, complying with nondisclosure of any details to the media.8 Presumably, that includes being prohibited from publicly describing any vaccine reactions that occur after vaccination.
WHO Supports China’s Emergency Use of Experimental COVID-19 Vaccines
According to Zheng, China gained the “understanding and support” from the World Health Organization (WHO) before starting a controversial emergency use program for its COVID-19 vaccine candidates.9
Dr. Mariângela Simão, the WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products said…
Countries have autonomy according to their national regulations and legislations to issue emergency use authorizations for any health product, and China and other countries have already done so for different products. And WHO has emergency use listing provisions and has issued already several products for diagnostics.10
1 Sui-Lee W. China Gives Unproven Covid-19 Vaccines to Thousands, With Risks Unknown. The New York Times Sept. 26, 2020.
2 Qi G. China using “emergency” authorization to try COVID vaccines on state workers. CBS News Aug. 25, 2020.
5 Wu H, McNeil S. China pushes emergency use of COVID vaccine despite concerns. ABC News Sept. 26, 2020.
6 See Footnote 1.
7 See Footnote 5.
8 India TV News Desk. China gives COVID-19 vaccines to thousands with risks unknown, makes them sign ‘nondisclosure’ agreement. Indian TV News Sept. 27, 2020.
9 Gan N. China says it got WHO support for coronavirus vaccine emergency use. CNN Sept. 25, 2020.