THE race to find a cure or lasting solution against the Covid-19 pandemic keeps scientists globally awake every night.

Although to date no known cure against the diseases – that has now claimed over three million people globally, that is more than the entire population of Botswana –  has been found, the closest we have gotten so far to the cure is vaccination.

And many vaccines have come on board. Those who are following the vaccinology series you know we have discussed the Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, the Johnson and Johnson. We are yet to talk about Mordena, Sinovac and Sputnik V the first “missile” to be released against  SARSCOV2.

Today we will talk a bit and in summary about the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. Together with the AstraZeneca vaccine that is already being used to vaccinate people in Zambia, Sinopharm is said to be the next one that was approved by the Ministry of Health for inoculation of the local population.

What is Sinopharm?

Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine also known as the BBIBP-CORV is one of two inactivated virus Covid-19 vaccines developed by Sinopharm’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products.

Related Articles

It completed phase III  trials in Argentina, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, 

Pakistan, Peru, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with over 60, 000 participants. It shares similar technology with CoronaVac and Covaxin, other inactivated virus vaccines for Covid-19.

This means the virus used is the actual virus Sarscov2, the Covid-19 virus that has been destroyed of its infectious properties but still maintains its vital elements that are able to trigger the immune system which in turn will form protection again the invading virus. The polio vaccine that has helped to curb the disease that has in the past been deforming a lot of children uses the same technology, so is the  rabies vaccine.

Sinopharm could be transported and stored at normal refrigerated temperatures.

On May 7, 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the vaccine for use in COVAX.

Is it safe?

The vaccine is considered safe, has been  recommended its use for people aged 18 and above.

How efficacious is the vaccine?

A large multi-country phase 3 trial has shown that two doses, administered at an interval of 21 days, have an efficacy of 79 percent                                                                                                                                          against symptomatic Sars-cov-2 infection 14 or more days after the second dose. Vaccine efficacy against hospitalisation was 79 perce.

What’s the recommended dosage?

Sinopharm is a two-dose vaccine  (0.5 ml) given intramuscularly preferably in the shoulder.   WHO who recommends an interval of 3–4 weeks between the first and second dose.

If the second dose is administered less than three weeks after the first, the dose does not need to be repeated. If administration of the second dose is delayed beyond four weeks, it should be given at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Should pregnant women be vaccinated with Sinopharm?

From WHO official page: The available data on the Covid-19 vaccine in pregnant women are insufficient to assess either vaccine efficacy or vaccine-associated risks in pregnancy.

However, this vaccine is an inactivated vaccine with an adjuvant that is routinely used in many other vaccines with a documented good safety profile, including in pregnant women.

The effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine in pregnant women is therefore expected to be comparable to that observed in non-pregnant women of similar age.

In the interim, WHO recommends the use of the Covid-19 vaccine in pregnant women when the benefits of vaccination to the pregnant woman outweigh the potential risks to help pregnant women make this assessment, they should be provided with information about the risks of Covid-19 in pregnancy; the likely benefits of vaccination in the local epidemiological context; and the current limitations of safety data in pregnant women. WHO does not recommend pregnancy testing prior to vaccination. WHO does not recommend delaying pregnancy or considering terminating pregnancy because of vaccination.

Who else can take the vaccine?

Yet again WHO recommends that;  The vaccine can be offered to people who have had Covid-19 in the past six months after an initial natural infection, available data show that symptomatic reinfection is uncommon.

Given limited vaccine supply, persons with pcr-confirmed Sars-cov-2 infection in the preceding six months may therefore choose to delay vaccination until near the end of this period. in settings where variants of concerns with evidence of immune escape are circulating earlier immunisation after infection may be advisable.

Vaccine effectiveness is expected to be similar in lactating women as in other adults. WHO recommends the use of the Covid-19 vaccine in lactating women as in other adults. WHO does not recommend discontinuing breastfeeding after vaccination.

Persons living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease.  Persons living with HIV were not included in the trial but given this is a non-replicating vaccine, persons living with HIV who are a part of the recommended group for vaccination may be vaccinated. Information and counselling, wherever possible, should be provided to inform individual benefit-risk assessment.

Who is the vaccine not recommended for?

The vaccine is not recommend for:

1) Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis to any component of the vaccine should not take it.

2) Anyone with a body temperature over 38.5ºc should postpone vaccination until they no longer have a fever.

3) Currently, the vaccine is not recommended for persons younger than 18 years of age, pending the results of further studies in that age group.

Side Effects

In most cases, the reactions were mild and tend to resolve within two days.  Any allergic skin reaction is usually mild and can be treated with antihistamines and steroids and expected to resolve in three days.

Systemic reactions that affected more than just the injection site usually include:

    • Fatigue

    • Diarrhoea

    • Muscle weakness

But these symptoms are reported far less than injection site reaction.

Rashes on people of colour

Redness, irritation, and hives are easily given away by redness and raised areas on white skin, but detecting hives or rashes on other skin tones like my highly melaninated skin may be more difficult.

If one has black or brown skin as the case is with most Zambians, it can be a challenge to see redness, but one can still detect hives and skin irritation through:

    • Itching

    • Swelling

    • Inflammation

    • Raised bumps

If you experience swelling in your mouth or throat or have trouble breathing after receiving the vaccine, this is a sign of an anaphylactic allergic reaction. Please you should quickly go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Of course we shall be officially communicated to when this vaccine will be in Zambia.  And when that time comes for you to make a decision whether or not to be vaccinated, I hope you will find this material helpful.








Check Also
Back to top button