Even though more than half its population is fully vaccinated, coronavirus cases are soaring in Mongolia, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The Asian country reported 1,312 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing its total infections to almost 70,000, almost all of which have occurred since January.
The New York Times database shows that daily infections in Mongolia have risen more than 70% in the last two weeks.
Mongolia is one of the few developing countries that arranged for enough doses of the vaccine for its population, having signed agreements for 4.3 million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine and one million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine (of which only 60,000 of the latter have so far arrived.)
This puts the focus on concern about the effectiveness of the Sinopharm vaccine, which uses inactivated coronaviruses to trigger an immune response in the body and has been demonstrated in studies to be less effective than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use newer mRNA technology, according to The New York Times.
Critics were already questioning the effectiveness of Sinopharm’s vaccine due to a lack of transparency in its trial data in its later stages.
Those doubts increased when Seychelles, a small nation that relied heavily on Sinopharm to inoculate its population, experienced a large increase in coronavirus cases, although most of them were not serious.
Ben Cowling, an epidemiologist and biostatistician at the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health, explained to the Times that “Inactivated vaccines like Sinovac and Sinopharm are not as effective against infection but very effective against severe disease.”
He added that “although Mongolia seems to be having a spike in infections and cases, my expectation is that there won’t be a large number of hospitalizations.”
Another possibility, according to experts is that some virus variants may spread quickly enough to create concern even in nations where much of the population has vaccinations effective against them.
One such example is Great Britain, which is experiencing an increase in cases connected to the Delta variant, even though it has more than half of its adult population fully vaccinated, mostly from the more reliable AstraZeneca and Pfizer shots.
With the spike of infections in Mongolia, critics have raised questions about why the government relied on the Sinopharm vaccine instead of one that had proven to be more effective. This is an especially relevant query as Mongolians headed to vote on Wednesday in an election for president, the Times pointed out.
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