Bahrain said on Sunday that it had approved the use of a Chinese vaccine against the coronavirus, after the United Arab Emirates became the first government to do so on Wednesday.
Bahrain said that the vaccine, manufactured by Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned drug maker, was 86 percent effective based on testing of more than 42,000 volunteers, the same preliminary results that the Emirates cited. Bahrain’s statement provided few additional details of the approval process. Sinopharm had no immediate reaction to the decision.
Experts had described the reported efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine as a respectable result that would help China’s efforts to play a key role in the global coronavirus inoculation drive, but they noted the lack of detail in the initial announcements. It also falls short of the results reported by the American drug makers Pfizer and Moderna, which said that their coronavirus vaccines were more than 90 percent effective.
Last month, Bahrain said it had begun providing the Sinopharm vaccine to frontline medical workers under an emergency-use authorization. The decision announced on Sunday will allow the vaccine to be administered to the wider public. Bahrain was involved in the testing of the Chinese vaccine, with more than 7,700 people in the island kingdom volunteering for Phase 3 clinical trials.
Bahrain, which has a population of about 1.5 million, said on Thursday that it would offer coronavirus vaccinations free to all citizens and residents, but did not specify which company or companies would provide the shots.
In other global developments:
Italy has overtaken Britain as the country with the most coronavirus fatalities in Europe, with both countries reporting more than 64,000 deaths.
South Korea reported 1,030 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, setting a record for the second consecutive day as the country struggles to contain a fourth wave of infections. Early in the pandemic, South Korea was praised as a model for its aggressive antivirus efforts, but President Moon Jae-in warned on Sunday that restrictions could be raised to their highest level after they were already tightened in the capital, Seoul, last week.
Panama, which has the highest infection rate in Latin America, reported a record 2,806 coronavirus cases on Saturday.