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China Centers for Disease Control director Gao Fu at a March event in Beijing, China. Photo: Han Haidan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's director said Saturday authorities are considering mixing COVID-19 vaccines because the country's domestically made doses "don't have very high protection rates," per AP.

Why it matters: The remarks by the Gao Fu at a news conference in the southwestern city of Chengdumark mark the first time a Chinese health official has spoken publicly about the low efficacy of vaccines made in China.

Driving the news: Gao said officials were looking at two options designed "to solve the problem that the efficacy of ... existing vaccines is not high," according to the South China Morning Post.

  • One is mixing vaccines, known as "sequential immunization," and the other is to "adjust the dosage, the interval between doses or increase the number of doses," the SCMP reports.  

The intrigue: Experts say the mixing of vaccines may "boost effectiveness rates," AP notes.

  • Scientists in the United Kingdom are conducting clinical study into the mixing of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.

The big picture: China's government has only approved locally made vaccines for use against the virus.

  • Sinopharm announced just before its coronavirus vaccine was approved for use late last year that its vaccine was 79.3% effective, though experts said important data was missing.
  • China's health regulator approved Sinovac's vaccine last February. Several phase 3 trials in Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia have shown efficacy rates of 50.38% to 91.25%, Axios' Shawna Chen notes.

Of note: Gao said "everyone should consider the benefits" of mRNA vaccines, used by Western drug makers as a tool against the pandemic but not by their counterparts in China, AP reports.

What they're saying: Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccine expert who attended Gao's news conference, told the SCMP the "levels of antibodies generated by our vaccines are lower than mRNA vaccines and the efficacy data are also lower."

  • It's a "natural conclusion that our inactivated vaccines and adenovirus vectored vaccines are less effective" than mRNA vaccines he said.
  • But he added, "We should not wait till a perfect vaccine is available."

By the numbers: Gao said about 34 million people had received "both of the two doses required by Chinese vaccines and about 65 million received one," according to AP.

Go deeper: China and Russia vaccinate the world

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 10, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Report: John Kerry plans to visit China ahead of Biden's climate summit

John Kerry. Photo: Zach Gibson / Stringer

John Kerry, President Biden's special climate envoy, is expected to travel to China next week for meetings with officials aimed at boosting collaboration, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Why it matters: China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter and the U.S. is second-largest.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Pelosi's Republican playbook

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As Republicans fight among themselves, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is showing the myriad ways she deals with the GOP herself.

Between the lines: We've seen Pelosi cut opponents off at the knees, like she did with President Trump, or pretend to forget their names, as she did to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Now she's feeding oppo research against her House counterpart, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), so others can use the same harsh rhetoric to frame the Republicans as the party of dysfunction.

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