A Chinese study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal has shown Omicron sub-variants eluding neutralising antibodies after two doses of a Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine.
The study comes as Beijing, which has approved only locally developed Covid shots including the Sinopharm vaccine, strives to improve vaccination rates, maintaining a “dynamic zero Covid” policy.
The vaccine, BBIBP-CorV, is one of the two Sinopharm Covid shots approved for use in China, and is also the main shot that the state-owned firm has exported.
Among 25 individuals who received two doses of BBIBP-CorV vaccine, the neutralising activity against sub-variants such as BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5 “was not or only minimally detectable”, researchers said in correspondence published on Monday.
Neutralising activity against those sub-variants was observed in just 24-48% of subjects who received a BBIBP-CorV booster shot after the two-dose product, researchers said, citing results from a group of 25 participants.
The rate improved slightly, to 30-53%, for those who received a third shot made by a unit of Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products, another vaccine approved for use in China, according to data from another group of 30 subjects.
The study did not discuss the boosters’ efficacy, a rate that reflects how well they could lower the risk of Covid disease or death, which is usually observed in large clinical trials.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard