The Chinese vaccine raises controversy and fears among Egyptians

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The Egyptians were expected to receive the news of the arrival of an anti-coronavirus vaccine with happiness and optimism. Still, anxiety, fears, and ridicule prevailed among them in light of their lack of confidence in the regime and the government’s procedures. With the Ministry of Health announcing that it had received the first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine developed by the Chinese company Sinopharm, it issued a hashtag entitled, Chinese vaccine, across social media in Egypt.

Under the hashtag, a team of tweeters questioned the Chinese vaccine’s effectiveness and expressed their fear about the vaccination process and the tests. Egyptians demanded that officials first try the Chinese vaccine before giving it to citizens, considering that the system does not offer them free gifts. Rather, it exploited the pandemic to profit from it and impose new fees.

Many Egyptian doctors expressed their refusal to take the vaccine after the Ministry of Health announced that medical teams will be the first to receive the Chinese vaccine on social networking sites. Doctors expressed their astonishment at having injected them with a vaccine of questionable efficacy, while the government was intransigent with them over the past months in conducting free swabs or providing them with means of protection including masks and disinfectant.

Activists pointed out the danger of circulating the Chinese vaccine to the Egyptian people before ensuring its safety, especially considering that a country like Peru has stopped its circulation, confirming that it causes many side effects on nerves.

Chinese vaccine

Some Egyptians explained that their fears about the Chinese vaccine have several reasons, including the prevailing idea about Chinese products in general, in addition to the fact that it came as a gift from the UAE, which means that the system is being tried on the people.

Tweeters asked about the government’s slowdown in importing the American vaccine, which was produced by Pfizer and has been praised in most countries of the world, while it accelerated the import of the Chinese vaccine. Egyptians’ fear increased after media campaigns by media professionals from the security and intelligence services praising the Chinese vaccine and denouncing the Pfizer vaccine.

Journalist Ahmed Moussa claimed on his show that the American anti-corona virus vaccine, which was produced by Pfizer, is ineffective and has dangerous side effects. Ahmed Moussa also claimed that half of the British people refused to receive the Pfizer vaccine due to its seriousness, which many experts and doctors denied and described his speech as a lie.

Twitter users demanded that the World Health Organisation issue a clear statement about the Chinese vaccine, stressing that they will not rely on Egyptian government data that they do not trust. Tweets and sarcastic posts prevailed from Egyptians who rejected the Chinese vaccine, as some of them explained that they are no longer afraid of the virus, but now they are afraid of the vaccine.

Unmatched risk

According to Egyptian officials’ statements, the UAE provided a shipment of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine as a gift to Egypt, and the first shipment of the Chinese vaccine arrived at Cairo Airport from the UAE. According to Emirati media, Egypt participated in the Chinese vaccine’s clinical tests in the UAE, which gives it a priority to obtain a quota of doses.

Osama Heikal, Minister of State for Information, announced that Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had directed that doses of the coronavirus vaccine be given to Egyptians free of charge. Heikal said in press statements that the first vaccines would be granted to the most vulnerable groups, including doctors and isolation hospital staff, and the elderly.

The Minister of State for Information added that Health Minister Hala Zayed underwent the Chinese vaccine’s initial clinical trials. The statements of the Egyptian officials were not convincing to the citizens, especially doctors, who confirmed the existence of global warnings about this vaccine due to the lack of transparency.

According to health experts, circulating the Chinese vaccine before seeing its clinical trial data is considered an unmetered risk. In a statement to Agence France Presse, Natasha Qassam, an expert on Chinese affairs at the Australian Lowy Institute, said that the lack of transparency in the Chinese system has led to thousands of people being vaccinated without clinical trial data being published.