The editor of Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party’s tabloid mouthpiece, boasted on social media that he could access an under-the-counter BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, before the country’s health authorities had ever authorized the use of vaccines by foreign pharmaceuticals.
The Global Times is used by the Party as a platform to rattle sabers and rail against China’s foreign rivals, so the admission of a covert channel to gain access to expensive Western treatments not available to ordinary people, represented a possible slip-up by the combative propagandist.
“Someone has told me that they could administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for me,” Hu Xijin posted on the Weibo social media platform last Friday. “But as I have such a handsome face, I still chose Sinopharm for the sake of my safety.”
He didn’t detail in the post what safety hazards the Germany-made injections might pose, and later took down the message and replaced it with another mentioning that he had completed the entire vaccination process.
“It was Sinopharm,” he wrote. “There was a 28-day interval between the two shots, and there was no discomfort at all.”
The COVID-19 vaccine developed jointly by America’s Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech is known to provoke a stronger immune response than the three domestically produced vaccines. It has an estimated efficacy of 90%, compared with about 50% from Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSino.
Meanwhile, the country’s is still lagging behind many other countries in terms of its vaccine rollout. As of Sunday, mainland China had administered a total of 192 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, China’s National Health Commission announced, with the vaccination rate at 13.7%. Half of the adults in the United States have received at least one vaccine dose.
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