What is the Sinovac COVID vaccine?

Sinovac COVID vaccine
Photo via Jernej Furman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sinovac-CoronaVac is an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine that uses a dead version of the virus to trigger the body’s immune system to create antibodies against the live virus. The vaccine requires two doses and is currently recommended for people aged 18 and above. 

The vaccine was developed by Sinovac, a Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company that specifically focuses on the development and manufacturing of vaccines against infectious diseases. The World Health Organization validated Sinovac-CoronaVac for Emergency Use Listing on June 1. As of June 9, the vaccine was approved for use in 26 countries. It has not been approved for regular or emergency use in the United States.

The WHO has yet to compare the efficacy of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine to other COVID-19 vaccines “due to the different approaches taken in designing the respective studies.” All vaccines that have achieved WHO Emergency Use Listing are “highly effective” in preventing severe disease and hospitalization from COVID-19.

A phase 3 trial in Brazil showed that two doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine, administered 14 days apart, had an efficacy rate of 51% against symptomatic COVID-19 infection. The vaccine was 100% effective against severe COVID-19 and hospitalization beginning 14 days after the second dose. There is not yet any substantive data related to the vaccine’s impact on the transmission of COVID-19. 

The most common side effect of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine is pain in the injection site, as is common with other COVID-19 vaccines. Other side effects include fatigue, diarrhea, and muscle pain. 

Studies show that recipients of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine are less likely to experience a fever than recipients of other COVID-19 vaccines, including the vaccine from Moderna. 

Sinovac-CoronaVac is currently undergoing trial studies to test its efficacy at protecting against other COVID-19 variants. Observational studies involving the gamma and zeta variants indicate that the vaccine is about 50% effective against symptomatic infection. 

Sources: Healthline, BBC, Medical News Today, WHO

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