Deaths in the Brazilian city of Serrana have decreased by 95 percent since all adult residents were offered a trial Sinovac vaccine.
In addition to lower death rates, the city of 46,000 has seen an 86 percent decrease in hospitalizations and an 80 percent decrease in symptomatic cases, according to the Associated Press. Serrana has become a unique refuge from the increasing outbreaks and uncertainty in other parts of the world as a result of the improvements.
The World Health Organization approved the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use in people aged 18 and up on Tuesday, the developer’s second vaccine authorization of this type. The “Project S” experiment lasted four months and put Sinovac’s shot to the test in real-world conditions. According to Ricardo Palacios, a director at Sao Paulo state’s Butantan Institute and the study’s coordinator, the pandemic can be controlled if three-quarters of the population is fully vaccinated with Sinovac, according to preliminary results released Monday.
Hundreds of millions of people, particularly in developing countries, have reason to be optimistic as a result of the findings. Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and other countries rely on the Chinese vaccine, which is less expensive than vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The city’s population was divided into four geographic areas based on age and gender, and by the end of April, most adults had received two shots. The pandemic was declared under control after three of the affected areas were vaccinated, according to results released on Monday. It was unclear whether vaccine uptake was consistent across regions.
Similarly, Denise Garrett, vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, which advocates for increased global vaccine access, described the findings as “good and very encouraging.”
Both Vecina and Garrett stated that there are still unanswered questions and that more data is needed to properly analyze the results, including information about people who received vaccinations but did not develop immunity. The city’s population was divided into four geographic areas based on age and gender, and by the end of April, most adults had received two shots. The pandemic was declared under control after three of the affected areas were vaccinated, according to results released on Monday. It was unclear whether vaccine uptake was consistent across regions. Both Vecina and Garrett stated that there are still unanswered questions and that more data is needed to properly analyze the results, including information about people who received vaccinations but did not develop immunity. The virus’s spread in Serrana slowed, while COVID-19 surged in neighboring communities such as Ribeirao Preto, just 12 miles west. The increase was attributed primarily to more contagious variants.
Ribeirao Preto’s hospitals are so overcrowded with COVID-19 patients that the mayor imposed strict shutdown measures last week, including halting public transportation and limiting grocery store hours for the city’s 700,000 residents. Some people will have to wait months for their vaccines. Almost all stores are closed, and virus patients occupy 95 percent of intensive-care unit beds.
Elmano Silveira, 54, works at a local drugstore and, for the first time, wishes he lived in Serrana, which was shunned prior to the vaccination campaign. Serrana was struggling to cope just months ago, according to Dr. Joo Antonio Madalosso Jr. He stated that for every patient who recovered in the first three months of 2021, two more arrived in poor condition.
That doesn’t mean Serrana is completely virus-free. Some residents refused to be immunized. Others missed the second dose or became infected before the vaccine was fully effective. A few people had pre-existing diseases that prevented them from receiving the vaccines.
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has repeatedly questioned the efficacy of the shot. He stated last year that his administration would not purchase the Chinese vaccine and that he would not allow Brazilians to be “guinea pigs.” Only after Brazil’s health regulator approved the shot in January did his health ministry sign a deal to buy tens of millions of doses.
Butantan’s head, Dimas Covas, told a congressional inquiry last week that if the government had acted sooner, Brazil could have had twice as many Sinovac vaccines — 100 million doses — by now. The shot accounts for half of all vaccines made available in the country to date.