A Filipino health worker holds a vial of Chinese Sinovac vaccine against Covid-19. ( AFP / TED ALJIBE)

Social media users share false list of Chinese guidelines for Sinovac's vaccine

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Multiple Facebook and Twitter posts have shared a purported list of China’s guidelines for its CoronaVac jab, produced by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac. The posts claim the list was released by the “Beijing Vaccination Prevention Center”. The claims are false: the official guidelines for China’s vaccination program -- released by its National Health Commission -- are not specific to CoronaVac. They also do not correspond with the guidelines listed in the misleading social media posts.

The Tagalog-language claim was shared in this Facebook post on August 16, 2021.

The opening lines translate to English as: “So many people cannot be vaccinated according to Sinovac guidelines. [The Department of Health] should inform the public about these. Why did [it] not?”

This is followed by text that reads: “SinoVac Warning: Reposting China's guidelines for Sinovac vaccination. Original in Chinese (translated to English)”.

The post then shares a purported list of medical conditions which make it unsafe for someone to receive CoronaVac as outlined by the “Beijing City Vaccine Prevention Center”.

Some of the conditions listed include: the existence of chronic illnesses; depression and anxiety; taking thyroid medication and some pregnant women.

Screenshot of false post taken on August 26, 2021.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration approved Sinovac's jab for emergency use in February 2021.

CoronaVac makes up more than 50 percent of the 48.8 million doses that have arrived in the Philippines as of August 25, 2021, according to a tally by Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN.

Identical posts have shared the list alongside a similar claim on Twitter here and on Facebook here, here, and here.

The claims, however, are false. The posts do no reflect China's official vaccine guidelines.

Vaccination guidelines

There is no health agency in China called the “Beijing City Vaccine Prevention Center”, a keyword search found.

The city's health authority is named Beijing Center for Diseases Prevention and Control. Keyword searches on its official website do not find the purported guidelines for Sinovac jab.

Multiple keyword searches on Chinese government websites show the country's latest guidelines for vaccination were actually released by its National Health Commission on March 29, 2021.

The guidelines relate to five Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines that have been approved for emergency use, including CoronaVac. They were published here.

In contrast to the misleading posts, the document states the vaccines are recommended for people with impaired immune systems.

It also states the jabs can be administered to people with comorbidities who are generally healthy or “have conditions that are controlled well with medicine”.

The document also notes the following five groups should not be given the vaccines: “(a) people who are allergic to any of the components or excipients in the vaccine or substances used in the production process, or who have had allergic reactions after vaccination with similar vaccines; (b) people with a history of severe allergic reaction to any vaccine (e.g., acute allergic shock, angioneurotic edema, dyspnea, or laryngeal edema, etc.); (c) people with uncontrolled epilepsy and other serious progressive neurological diseases (e.g., transverse myelitis, GBS, or demyelinating diseases, etc.); (d) people with fever, acute illness, acute exacerbation of a chronic disease, or uncontrolled severe chronic disease; and (e) pregnant women.”

The false list was debunked by the Philippine Department of Health in a Facebook post on April 7.

It said there is “no truth” to the information written about Sinovac's jab.

WHO recommendations

The World Health Organization (WHO) approved Sinovac's "quality, safety and efficacy" in June 2021.

It recommends Sinovac for immunocompromised patients and persons with comorbidities.

It has also recommended the jab for pregnant women, “when the benefits of vaccination to the pregnant woman outweigh the potential risks”.

Further keyword searches show the false list has been circulating on social media platforms in China as early as January 2021.

Additional information on vaccination in Beijing has been published on the websites for the Beijing Municipal Health Commission and the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control.