Mongolia promised its people a “COVID-free summer.” Bahrain said there would be a “return to normal life.” The tiny island nation of the Seychelles aimed to jump-start its economy.
All three put their faith, at least in part, in easily accessible Chinese-made vaccines, which would allow them to roll out ambitious inoculation programs at a time when much of the world was going without.
But instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.
China kicked off its vaccine diplomacy campaign last year by pledging to provide a shot that would be safe and effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19. Less certain at the time was how successful it and other vaccines would be at curbing transmission.
Now, examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants. The experiences of those countries lay bare a harsh reality facing a post-pandemic world: The degree of recovery may depend on which vaccines governments give to their people.
In the Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50% to 68% of the populations have been fully inoculated, outpacing the United States, according to Our World In Data, a data tracking project. All four ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst COVID outbreaks as recently as last week, according to data from The New York Times. And all four are mostly using shots made by two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.