The Claim and Our Verdict
- A video containing two different clips claims to show the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Zhong Nanshan, China’s top government doctor, admitting the country’s Sinovac vaccine is ineffective. However, the first clip was taken from a news report broadcast March 7, 2010, by Dragon TV, a satellite TV station based in Shanghai. The report is about a speech delivered by the former director of China’s CDC. The second clip was taken from a CCTV news report broadcast July 23, 2018, by China’s state-run CCTV. Both of the original news reports are about a counterfeit rabies vaccine, not the Sinovac vaccine.
- The two original reports predate the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and make no reference to Zhong or the coronavirus vaccines.
- Our verdict: The video was shared with false contextual information. It does not show China’s CDC and top government doctor admitting the Sinovac vaccine is ineffective.
A video shared April 14, 2022, on Facebook, claims to show China’s CDC and China’s top government doctor, Zhong Nanshan, admitting China’s Sinovac vaccine has low effectiveness. The caption, which was written in traditional Chinese, can be translated as, “Zhong Nanshan finally admits China’s Sinovac vaccine is ineffective and suggests vaccinating with America’s Moderna vaccine!” The video contains two clips: the first one is a news report from the program “Oriental News” of China’s satellite television station Dragon TV; the second one is a news report broadcast by China’s state-run CCTV. In the Dragon TV report, Wang Yu, the former director of China’s CDC, said, “In large-scale population use, the quality of some vaccines cannot meet the quality standards.” The subtitles of the CCTV report show the Chinese premier saying that the vaccine scandal must be clearly explained to the people of China.
The post was then shared in a public Facebook group, and a similar post can also be found here. According to the comments, people appear to regard the Sinovac vaccine as the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine.
As of the publication of this report, the video had been viewed more than 1,500 times, and had garnered 19 comments and 223 likes or reactions.
A reverse image search found a video published March 7, 2010, on China’s top online video and streaming service platform Youku, identical to the first clip in the Facebook video. In the Youku video, Wang Yu, the former director of China’s CDC, says that the quality standards of China’s vaccine still need improvement.
An article published March 28, 2010, on Sohu News, quoted the Dragon TV report. The article was translated in part: “The director of China’s CDC and member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee said in a CPPCC meeting on March 7 that the substandard quality of some domestic-made vaccines severely affects disease control and prevention … The person in charge of the State Food and Drug Administration attended the meeting and said yesterday that this year they will focus on the assessment of the quality of measles, hepatitis B and rabies vaccines, according to the requirements of the ministry of health.” The article makes no reference to coronavirus.
A reverse image search on the second video clip found a report broadcast July 23, 2018, by China’s state-run CCTV, with the headline “[China finance report] Premier Li Keqiang: The vaccine incident must be clearly explained to all people.” The video of this CCTV report is identical to the second clip in the Facebook video.
An article published July 22, 2018, by the Chinese government also mentioned Li’s instruction to investigate the vaccine incident.
An article published July 23, 2018, by Reuters claims, “Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called for an immediate investigation into a scandal over faulty vaccines that he said had crossed a moral line, and urged severe punishment for the companies and people implicated. The scandal erupted a week ago (July 16, 2018), after major vaccine maker Changsheng Biotechnology Co was found to have violated standards in making rabies vaccine for humans.” Li’s statement, therefore, is about the counterfeit rabies vaccine scandal in 2018, not coronavirus vaccines.
In addition, the Facebook video makes no reference to Zhong. A keyword search also produced no such information “Zhong admitting the Sinovac vaccine is ineffective.” The claim, therefore, was falsely attributed to Zhong.
According to the Chinese government, the Sinovac vaccine was approved for emergency use in China in June 2020, and was officially rolled out with preconditions on Feb. 5, 2021.
To sum up, the Facebook video is a composite of two different news reports. The two news stories are about other vaccines, not coronavirus vaccines. They both predate the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the time when the Sinovac vaccine was rolled out.
The video was shared with false contextual information. It does not show China’s CDC and top government doctor admitting Sinovac vaccine is ineffective.
- Facebook, post, April 14, 2022.
- Facebook, post, April 17, 2022.
- Youku, “Director of CDC: China’s vaccine quality standards still need to be improved,” March 7, 2010.
- Sohu News, “Video: March 7: Chinese vaccine quality standards still need to be improved, says official,” March 28, 2010.
- CCTV, “[China finance report] Premier Li Keqiang: The vaccine incident must be clearly explained to all people,” July 23, 2018.
- China government website, “Premier Li Keqiang gives instructions on vaccine incident: A clear and transparent explanation must be given to all people.”
- Reuters, “Chinese premier calls for severe punishment in vaccine scandal,” July 23, 2018.
- China government website, “Another COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out with preconditions in China,” Feb. 7, 2021.